One of my dad’s most stern admonitions. “Willie, you keep that up and you’re going to get a hard row to hoe!” Or, “Willie, are you giving me a hard row to hoe?” Dad will be 84 on January 5th. I called on Christmas Day and found him on top of his barn, patching a leaky roof. One of the last Real American Cowboys.
Life in general is a tough row to hoe. The tougher the row, the tougher the man. I’m going to paraphrase something I saw on the www: Man and several boys in a mid-day July cornfield. Covered in sweat and dirt and labor. A couple of the sweltering boys spy a watering hole and petition for a swim. “Back to work!” says the man. The man’s wife inquires later as to why no respite was given. “Because I’m growing men, not corn!”
I’ve laid out a tough row for Nebraska. Those that have done the work have turned to be the best men. I heard from one this past weekend.
James McGown is now 41. I was privileged and honored to coach him to consecutive US Olympic Marathon Trials, ’04 & ’08. He’s going to be running the Lincoln Half for us, Once A Real Mate, Always A Real Mate. I’ve been keen on his professional development, now the Superintendent at Brady HS. The McGown family perfectly landed on 40 acres with an old Victorian three story, a stocked sand pit, trails to run, room to hunt and grow and raise children the Right Way. I had to tell him how much it means personally that he chooses to run with/for me. His reply something so dear that it choked me up a bit. “I would have never kept running if it wasn’t for you Will, I’ll always run for you.”
The toughest row. Bringing out the best in men. I have a feeling my dad would get along just fine with James.