Lightening the Load
by Melanie Parker
...As soon as they had disappeared into the thickness of the trees, my brother Kevin threw up his arms in disgust. “He’s doing it again.” Brad and I knew what Kevin was referring to. Our father knew no limits when it came to service. Inconvenience wasn’t in his vocabulary.
“I bet we end up digging that guy out,” whispered Brad, poking gloomily in the dirt with a stick. The day suddenly felt a century long...
...The monstrous six-cord truck was sunk past its axles. Firewood weighed heavily on the bed of the truck increasing the complexity of the problem...
...Feeling like good Samaritans, we quickly hooked up our truck to the Lopez’s. Two spins of our tires later Mr. Lopez frantically waved his arms signaling my dad to stop. Between the weight of both trucks and the soft, marshy earth, our truck had sunk to its axles too...
...“Hey! Hey you over there! Do you think you could help us out of here?”
The stranger nodded slowly and climbed into his truck. When he saw what he had agreed to deal with, he said shortly, “Won’t pull ya loaded.” And with that, he made a graceful exit to his truck.
I looked at my dad and shot him the “You have got to be crazy” glance. He replied with the “What can I do?” shrug. We had no options available. All of us—including the Lopezes—scrambled to the top of the mountain of firewood in the back of our truck ready to destroy our entire day’s labor. As we worked side by side with one another, a strange feeling settled among us. I began to feel a bond with the Lopezes. If we didn’t work together, nobody was leaving tonight. A feeling of appreciation for one another was developing.
Little by little, our truck bed’s load was lessened until it was finally empty. Immediately, it sprang forward like a cheetah pouncing on its prey.
“Well, let’s get started on the Lopez’s truck. It’s not going anywhere loaded.”
The familiar process began yet again. Except this time, the mountain was Mt. Everest and the troops were showing signs of fatigue. The day began to haze over as the sun slowly set behind the mountain skyline.
By the time we’d emptied the truck, the piles of firewood scattered about the muddy meadow surpassed any I had seen before. Once the Lopez’s truck was unloaded, it leaped forward from the sticky mess. Both trucks were now free.
Without hesitating, the Lopezes began throwing the burly logs into the back of our truck. We were touched by their grateful actions, and as a result found hidden strength to finish this eternal load of firewood. I never saw my brothers work harder. Our companions had set a feverish pace, and our pride wouldn’t let us lag behind. When the last block was toppled on, I headed for the truck to climb in but was stopped by my father’s voice.
“There’s one truck left, kids.”
Kevin shook his head in unbelief. “Dad, I don’t think I can do it.”
Dad looked at his crew and smiled. It was a smile that said, “I know you can, and you will.” It was a smile filled with genuine love for his fellowman. It was a smile that told us in 20 years this would make a great family reunion tale.
We loaded that six-cord truck that night for a total of 20 cord of wood we had moved in one day. We never saw our friends again, but a strange bond developed between us that day. Our dad taught us a great lesson of service, one that would have a lasting effect on us. Because our dad had so strongly insisted on helping that family, we learned how wonderful service really feels.
The sore muscles are gone, but we still feel a love for the Lopez family. And I know that in 20 years, ours won’t be the only family reunion where this story is told.
This story made me feel like my little week of "firewood Hades" was nothing to whine about. The firewood is finally all stacked and stored away for next winter. I was able to get through it with out killing any of the people who stood by and watched me stack as they slowly commented, "My, that's a looooooot of wood ya got there". (I'm sorry, but if a woman is sweating you just shouldn't talk to her, unless you are sweating even more than she is.)
The worst part was when I got to the bottom of the pile and realized there was an even bigger pile of sawdust down there. My land lady drove by the place yesterday when the sawdust was still out in all its glory. She called my landlord (who is one of the people I didn't kill) and he came by to tell me that she was upset because the sawdust was on the gravel driveway and it would turn into dirt and get weeds in it and ruin her lovely driveway that we rent, yada yada "that's a big pile of sawdust you've got there" yada. I told him on Tuesday that I would have this all cleaned up by Sunday. I told him the same thing Wednesday. I basically told him this everyday this week. Well, Saturday I filled 10 of those ginormous lawn and garden bags full of sawdust. I put another 6 wheel barrels full of sawdust around all my roses and trees and fence. I have another box of sawdust in my shed. I am proud to say that with the help of a leaf blower, a rake, a wheel barrel, and a neighbor who wanted half of my sawdust, that my driveway looks just as "clean" and gravely as it did LAST Sunday. And I solemnly vow at this moment to never walk by someone who is stacking firewood without helping them!!!