My Final Day on Earth

I had just unloaded a dozen bags of manure and flopped down on my back in the shady grass.  My Dad was working down the rows of his beloved garden, weeding then mixing in the foul contents of my chores.  A clear cloudless summer sky outlined every leaf in my view.  I could feel my heart beat in my neck.  I guess that is what made me think of it.

It is a question of the young.  “What would you do if this were your last day on earth?”  I did not say it out loud but my seventeen year old brain ran through all the dramatic and poignant possibilities.  Saying goodbye to my Mom and Dad,  trying to prepare them for life without me.  Consoling my heartbroken friends.  Writing my last words and choosing the music for my standing-room-only funeral.  Then, waiting hand in hand with loved ones as the clock ticked down to the stroke of midnight.  I would be sorely missed.

I blurted out, “Dad, what would you do if this was your last day on earth?”  I couldn’t resist asking my Dad because I knew he would ask me as well and then be impressed with the thoughtfulness and maturity of my young choices.  Without a beat he said flatly, “I’d finish these three rows and start on the zucchini.”  

Perhaps he didn’t catch the sincerity in my voice?  I rolled over to read his face. “No, really.” I laughed.  He was still working the manure in with his hoe. “What, really?” he responded without looking up.  “Wouldn’t you want to go see some people? Or say goodbye to anyone?” I asked as I sat up.  He stopped and wiped his face with the wrinkled handkerchief he kept in the front flap of his overalls.  “Well, this is what I’m doing now.  If you’re not doing what you should be right now, it’s too late for all of that then.”