Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A simple life with enormous impact

Paul tending to his garden 
Late summer afternoons on the patio rocker with mother; tending the garden at dusk; mowing the expansive lawn at a slow pace; turning a fallen tree into warmth; a firm handshake and an honest word; a simple life with enormous impact.

These short sentences paint a picture of a man who impacted so many with his simple way of life. Paul Albert McDermott, Sr. was not a scholar nor was he the wealthiest man on the block. In fact, with only a 10th grade education, Paul provided for his family and was quite the innovator. He could take coffee cans and make elaborate organizers that even The Container Store would admire. He saved countless gallon milk jugs that he would cut in half to protect his small tomato plants from an early frost. Before “going green” became trendy, Paul acquired fourteen 50-gallon, plastic barrels (that would have most likely been discarded) from his nephew that he positioned around his old chicken coop to catch the rain. The rainwater was then used to help his garden thrive from year to year. I’m certain Paul was happy he didn’t have to pay Lowe’s $150 for just one barrel.

Material things did not matter to Paul. Paul's riches came in the form of people and the natural elements that surrounded him. His greatest treasure and the purpose of his life was his wife, Peggy. For 65 years Peggy and Paul were an institution of love, and for many, defined the word.

Peggy and Paul raised three children: Paul Jr., Jean, and Dave. Together, Peggy and Paul taught their children to live life humbly, respect those around you, and never waste a crumb. These life lessons were not epic, however; the impact and evidence can be seen in their lives and the lives of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Paul's efficient solution to watering his garden
Next to Peggy and his family, Paul had his garden and the natural, rural elements that surrounded him in Overlook, PA. If a famed artist were to ask anyone who knew Paul how he or she should go about painting his portrait, it would most certainly show him standing in his garden just as the sun went down, leaving the sky brushed with hues of pink, blue and white. He would be dressed in grey pants and a white shirt and in his left hand he would have a plastic bag filled with potatoes.

From his early days tending to and riding horses at the Pine Barn in Danville, Paul had a devout appreciation for nature and the bounty it bestowed upon us. Paul reveled with joy when he unearthed a potato from his garden and knew that his price for that single potato would beat any market price. His cucumbers were a delight and he taught most of his family how to enjoy radishes and lima beans. The corn Paul grew was of the sweetest variety and was an experience unto itself.

Paul, in his frugal nature, loved making the most of a fallen tree or any unwanted wood that may have otherwise been thrown by the wayside. About two years ago, he built a seat from old lumber - that would have otherwise been discarded - near his garden. What was the seat for? “It’s a nice place to sit and watch the garden or take a break”. 

Paul's garden respite 

Beyond his tractors and his trap shoot launcher, Paul's favorite toy was his wood splitter. As legend has it, it was slightly better than Paul Junior's. Paul enjoyed watching the power of his wood splitter and how efficient it made cutting wood. Many hours were spent splitting wood with Dave and Paul Junior. Around the campfire with Jean and Dave, Paul would often ask Dave to put more wood on the already burning "toothpicks". Paul's wood stacks were neat and meticulously calculated. Along with Peggy and his family those cuts of wood generated many good laughs and stories around hearths and countless campfires. While most would see a simple slice of wood, Paul saw an element that brought his family together for many years.

In death, Paul returns to the earth he so loved working with. He also returns to the person he treasured most in this world, Peggy. When you think of Peggy and Paul you think of one of life's greatest love stories. You think of two, humble, generous people who lived life simply and honestly. In a fast-paced world, inundated with greed,  self-promotion and competitive gains, Peggy and Paul walked gently together; always giving, compassionate and never wanting.

This evening, and many summer evenings to come, just as the sun slides past the horizon and the cool summer air invades the landscape along with the majestic hues of the sky know that Peggy and Paul are sitting together with you on the patio gently rocking back in forth in their chairs.

1 comment:

Mrs. Stanley said...

Beautiful tribute.