Sunday, August 23, 2009

My bucket has a hole in it

"Jay, your bucket has a hole in it!" I remember those words well. Back about 30 years ago, I worked at a rural water corporation serving 4 counties. My father-in-law, Mark Towery, was the manager of the FHA system. My job was simply to install meters, backwash the well sites, flush lines, and fix water leaks. And we had lots of leaks. All the lines were 8" PVC and smaller. When I started, the system couldn't afford a backhoe so leaks were repaired by hand... that means shovel and bucket!

Mark and I were at a water leak where a 4" line had split. Being in the `low area', lots of water drained down to where I was digging and bailing water to get to the water line. We were in a sandy field and the walls of the hole kept caving in. What should have been a 3' X 4' and 30" deep hole was becoming a small reservoir.

I would shovel sand and bucket water as fast as I could but I was not making much, if any, headway. My temper got the best of me as another `sand slide' slid in to the hole burying what I had already spent 45 minutes digging. Now it was wider but no deeper. I reached over and picked up my bucket and threw it with all of my might. And wouldn't you know, it hit the only shovel within a 100 yards of me.

Mark walked over, picked it up and inspected it. He turned towards me and holding the damaged bucket up, smiled and stated, "Your bucket has a hole in it."

His comment broke the tension and my anger. We both started laughing. The rest of the story isn't important. The fact that the corporation bought a backhoe and two water pumps shortly after doesn't matter. The fact we hired two more employees to help me doesn't matter. What mattered the most to me was Mark Towery telling me that my bucket had a hole in it. I have smiled many times when remembering his comment. And everyone in the family heard him tell that story `too many times'. That comment can mean many things to many people. For me, it simply meant that one has to accept what is as what it is and go on. In that mud hole it meant if ya get mad and lose your temper... it can cause you more trouble that just accepting what happened and move on. That expression chased me the rest of my life and will til the day I die.

You see, I do have a temper. I have a bad temper. I have one of those tempers that get people in trouble but I have learned to control it. Even still though, I have to be reminded to watch my temper. And that's Molly's job.

Molly and I were at a `History Event' in Llano Texas. They put on a dance Saturday night for us and the public was invited. Three boys had had a little too much `partying' and started acting up which included some off-colored comments to my wife. When I found out, I was ready to settle the score and hang some scalps from my belt. As I started toward them, Molly put her hand out and touched my arm. Very quietly, she said, "Jay, your bucket has a hole in it." Red faced and full of courage, I looked back at her. Her smile was met with mine. We left the dance. (note: those boys were taken care of later by another husband).

I learned to use his expression to help me through many different `problems'. When I was feeling down, I would remember him saying it and it always made me smile.

Mark Towery passed away a number of years ago. He was a humorous man full of wit. He taught me how to plow with a mule, plant `taters', and how friends used to help bury friends and relatives who had passed away. He had done it many times. He taught me words like "laraping" & "tuniment" (tournament). He taught me the care of an animal and the love/respect of family in a way that can't be put in words.

We were very close and shared many secrets that will go to the grave with me. He asked several favors of me - for when he `passed'. When Mark died, I fulfilled one of his wishes at the cemetery. As the people left the grave site, I had several special people stay behind to help me do what he wanted. With everyone else gone, I held up my hand to the backhoe that was going to fill in the grave with dirt. You see, Mark was going to be buried by family & friends by hand like he requested. No machine.

As I stood there looking down at my friend's casket, I felt I needed to say something before we started. Quietly, I whispered, "Mark, looks like your bucket has a hole in it". As everyone began shoveling dirt into the open grave, I cut my eyes up at Molly. She just smiled.

A great father, friend and teacher had passed and now it was time for us to move on. That's the way of life.


  1. Good story. Reminds me of a ditty we used to sing when we were little....."There's a hole in the bucket, dear Eliza"......

  2. What a nice story and a lovely memory from a very smart man. Thanks for sharing that Jay.Seems like lately there are a couple of holes in my bucket. I will try and remember this story before I get too upset.

  3. Wow.. touching story Jay. You were so blessed to have a friend like Mark.... and to have Molly for a wife.

  4. Aww, you made me tear up here at work! Sounds like a wonderful relationship. Everyone needs someone like that to help them see things in perspective.