Guys of my advanced years are often accused of trying to live vicariously through our children.
The idea goes that we push our kids to do things that we were either too chicken to do ourselves, or were just too inept.
I like to think I am not afflicted with that particular social malady.
I'm button-bustingly proud of each of my kids, their spouses and their kids.
I have cheered all of their academic, intellectual, sporting, personal, religious, professional and family achievements.
I've happily encouraged each of my far-flung posterity to pursue their own dreams, climb the mountains they want to challenge, and — to steal a line from an Army recruiting poster — be all they can be!
Having said all that. there is one place in my world where I hope one member of my extended family can achieve a goal I longed for but never achieved.
It has to do with a riding lawnmower.
About three months ago my darling daughter, Becca, her exceptional hubby, Jonathan, and their two functionally perfect sons, my grandwidgets, Caleb and James, moved to Washington state.
They live in an impressive home, in a beautiful neighborhood, in a really hot desert community in south central Washington.
The home is 14 years old and has mature landscaping and a whole big bunch of lawn.
When they moved in Jonathan purchased a push-it, gas-operated lawnmower, and as part of his household duties he mows the lawn.
I know something about mowing lawns.
Back in the olden days, when my dear bride, the saintly Susan, and I lived in Casa Aylworth I, which we lately have begun calling "the farmhouse," mowing was my duty.
I manhandled a noisy, stinky, balky gas lawnmower over about half-an-acre of weeds that I laughingly called a lawn.
One day I even pulled the mower over my foot, which made a real mess out of my tennis shoe and wasn't much nicer to my foot.
I hated it!
I dreamed of owning a sleek, powerful riding mower that would cruise effortlessly over the ground, shredding grass and the unlucky gopher with equal ease.
Sadly, back when I had enough ground to justify a riding mower, I didn't have the cash to buy one.
Occasionally, I would badger a neighbor into letting me borrow his riding mower, but — darn it — they always wanted it back.
Eventually, Susan and I moved into Casa Aylworth III, which frankly makes the farmhouse look like a poorly maintained outhouse. Now, with no widgets at home, I could afford a riding mower, but we no longer have any part of enough grass to justify the purchase, but Becca and Jonathan do.
On seeing his expanse of lawn I told my son-in-law, "You need a riding mower!"
Jonathan beamed like it was Christmas morning, while Becca, who was standing just behind him, gave me a look that would wither a cactus. "The mower we own is entirely adequate," she said.
My daughter is bright, intelligent and loving, but she just doesn't understand that a man and his riding mower become a team. They join forces to turn a hateful job into manly joy.
I'm not trying to live my dreams through Jonathan. I just want him to have what I longed for. If I bought the riding mower for them, do you think Jonathan — or Becca for that matter — would let me ride it now and again? Now, the only problem is selling the idea to my spouse.