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A Short October Vacation: Rakes and Pumpkins

My dad was adopted by my grandparents when he was a child. My dad is of Hispanic descent and they’re of Italian descent and we always made a decision to visit them at their home in Long Island once or twice a year. While we usually visited them during the summer and or Christmas, one year in 1992, when I was nine, we weren’t going to be able to see them during the holidays, so my dad worked something out with my granddad so we could go visit them in the middle of October.

We never visited them during October, but this particular October was a weekend that ended up being very important and quite eventful. We went there on a Friday and left Sunday evening and that October my grandparents made it a point of bringing us on some excursions, despite the chilly weather. One Saturday afternoon we didn’t quite have anywhere to go, so we spent the day out in their humongous back yard playing around.

My brother and I are city kids so we never had a backyard, and always wondered what it would be like to rake leaves in a yard. I grew up watching television and always thought it’d be neat to rake leaves, even if it was in a football field sized yard. So lo and behold, my brother and I went to my granddad and asked him if we could rake his yard for fun. His yard was full of leaves, and it seemed like it would be a good experience.

They say the grass is always greener because boy, were we wrong.

My granddad gave us two rakes and told us where to start and we went on with the task. After about thirty minutes we were exhausted and decided it wasn’t fun anymore, so we went to him and told him we weren’t going to do it anymore. Sadly, my grandfather is an ex-Marine and he forbade us to leave the chore unfinished. In a soft but stern tone he told us we had to finish the yard, and our parents sat there without a word.  As we turned and walked out to the yard, we drudged on, raking the leaves and what we thought would be a fun thirty minute deed, ended up being a two and a half hour task, even when our uncle took pity on us and decided to help us finish with his then girlfriend (now wife).

It seemed mean at the time, but my grandfather taught us a lesson that weekend. That a man has to finish everything that he starts and that it’s only the responsible thing to do. When you promise to do something, you see it through, no matter how hard or tedious it may seem. I always remembered that lesson and it helped me to realize that a real man finishes everything he starts, no matter what.

Despite that important lesson learned, the weekend was fairly breezy as they took us to a pumpkin patch the morning before we left, and it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life. I never visited pumpkin patches, and walking through an actual one a few weeks before my favorite holiday was amazing. We had a long train ride home that late afternoon so my dad would only allow us to take home small pumpkins for the sake of convenience. We didn’t mind it, as the experience was what made it worth it.

Thankfully my grandparents had a ton of energy so we were in the pumpkin patch for at least three hours, just looking at the humongous pumpkins and smaller pumpkins and we were able to pick out our very own individual pumpkins. We did the more convenient task of drawing faces on the pumpkins with black permanent marker for Halloween, and it was one of the many trips that thankfully made my bucket list long before I ever had one. That was a fun weekend, as not only was it a great way for us to ring in Halloween a few weeks early, but my brother and I learned a very important message that we carried in to adult hood.

Also if you ask to rake a yard, make sure it’s not the size of a football field.

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Hoju Koolander Posted on Jun 15, 2018 at 08:05 PM

Wow, 3 hours in the pumkin patch, that was a very thorough selection process. I had a slightly more enjoyable experience raking leaves at my aunt's house while visiting during Halloween one year. I think what made it seem less grueling was that she had those trash bags with jack o' lantern designs on them. So after the hard work, we got to enjoy the decoration. Glad you learned a valuable life lesson out of it.

Superman Posted on Jun 15, 2018 at 05:49 PM

I went to a pumpkin patch only one time during my childhood. It was part of a school field trip.

mickyarber Posted on Jun 13, 2018 at 03:07 PM

My oldest is a huge fan of the local pumpkin patch. It’s her most looked forward to thing every year.

NLogan Posted on Jun 13, 2018 at 02:11 AM

Lesson learned. Thank you sir! Er..grandpa! I used to go to the pumpkin patch every year.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jun 12, 2018 at 04:42 PM

We didn't have a local pumpkin patch in my youth. So my first trip to one was actually taking my own children. It is an experience I wish I could have had as a child.

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