I’ll never forget the shovel and the hoe and the trowel and the hammer.

I know these tools well because my father asked for something. What I have learned has remained with me from those early days of working with him.

The other day I was working in the garden and finally got my plants and seeds in the ground. It was pretty muddy from all the rain, but I wore my wellington boots and did just fine.

After finishing the last row of green beans, I leaned my shovel against the rabbit-proof fence next to the hoe and rake. All three were covered in mud, and my memory bank went into gear.

My father was a bricklayer and had a side business building fences, retaining walls, chimneys, and more. When my brother and I were around eight and ten years old, Dad gave us a job.

We were his testers, which is a supportive role for masons. Our job was to stack the bricks and / or cement blocks so dad could build whatever project he had.

It didn’t take long before we mixed the mortar for papa, shoveled the sand into the mixer and lifted the 100 pound sack of cement on top and added just the right amount of water.

Papa had his way of doing things, and the mortar had to be just the right rigidity for him to work with and stay safe. He paid us well, and when we got paid, 10% went to church for our tithing and some went to savings.