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Lessons in Aging:

A Summer Job to a Fulfilling Career

Job Earned

As I get older, I sometimes reminisce about my youth. I find myself thinking about Inga, Irene, Valeria, Marie- as well as Ruth, Mary, Odelia, and Norma, among others. These are not former girlfriends; rather, these are some of the ladies I had the pleasure of helping out when I was a boy and young adult.

One of my first jobs was mowing lawns for the widows in my north St. Cloud neighborhood. Among my first “clients” was my grandmother. I took over lawn mowing duties from the previous lawn boys, my three older brothers. The worst part about mowing for grandma was pushing the lawnmower to her house and crossing the always busy 9th Avenue.

The job did have its perks. There were usually freshly baked peanut butter cookies, clover leaf rolls, or sometimes even a pie cooling on the counter. There was always a can of Squirt, too. I remember how refreshing that was after mowing on a warm summer day. We regularly played a game of cribbage or other cards after I mowed while I enjoyed the treats she made.

Lesson Learned

One particular summer sticks out to me: the summer I learned a very valuable lesson. I was probably 12 or 13 years old, and school had just ended for the summer. We were all enjoying a beautiful Minnesota June, with ample sunshine and plenty of rain. Grandma’s lawn (and everyone else’s) was growing extra fast. I was busy being a typical tween/ teen, so mowing for my grandmother was not my #1 priority.

It had probably been a couple of weeks between mowings when my grandmother called her son, my dad, to tell him that her lawn was way overdue for a mowing. When I mowed her lawn the next day, she was still upset with me. I remember telling her I was sorry and seeing her cry. She said she thought I didn’t care, or something to that effect. I remember being really bummed that I had made her cry.

That evening at dinner, I told my dad how upset my grandmother was. I told him how I just didn’t get how she could be so upset about “her stupid lawn.” He said that yes, her lawn was important to her, but what REALLY mattered to her was seeing me. It was about spending time with her, visiting, playing cards, drinking the Squirt, eating her cookies. A simple action by me meant so much to my grandmother. That lesson has stayed with me for the more than 4 decades since.

A New Leaf Turned

From an early age, I’ve always been aware of the needs of older adults. I witnessed it around me- from my grandmother and others in my neighborhood, and later from my own parents and in-laws. My experience mowing for my grandmother really drove home how important older adults were in my life.

I was aware of DARTS for quite a few years before I applied for the job of homemaker, now known as a home helper. I believe there is a reason I found DARTS. Our mission to create connections that enrich aging speaks to me. I am fortunate to work for DARTS and am very proud to tell people who ask where I work. The best thing about my job, though, is my coworkers. I am amazed at what caring individuals they are, and how skilled and knowledgeable they are about their jobs. I feel like I’m just a small part of a great team.

When I started working with the DARTS volunteer summer mowing program, it felt like my life had come full circle. Today, I oversee that outdoor chores process for older adults in Dakota and south Washington Counties, and every year it reminds me of mowing for my grandmother so many years ago.

Craig's Grandma
Craig's Grandma

Author

  • Craig Egerman

    Craig Egerman serves as the Program Manager of Home Services for DARTS. Craig earned his Bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University and has been with DARTS since 2016. Prior to this, he worked as a self-employed painter for nearly 25 years. This experience has been helpful in determining how DARTS can best help clients with their requests for Home Repair Services. Craig lives in Lakeville with his wife, Jeanine. Together they have one son who is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota. In his free time Craig enjoys fishing, travel, visiting antique shops, and sampling the offerings of local craft breweries.

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Craig Egerman (Author)

Craig Egerman serves as the Program Manager of Home Services for DARTS. Craig earned his Bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University and has been with DARTS since 2016. Prior to this, he worked as a self-employed painter for nearly 25 years. This experience has been helpful in determining how DARTS can best help clients with their requests for Home Repair Services. Craig lives in Lakeville with his wife, Jeanine. Together they have one son who is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota. In his free time Craig enjoys fishing, travel, visiting antique shops, and sampling the offerings of local craft breweries.
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