Dear Mr. Massey,
I’m feeling very apologetic. I mean, after all, this is “a fine kettle of fish” I’ve gotten us in isn’t it, as Mr. Hardy would say to Mr. Laurel if memory serves me right.
(Folks of a certain generation would know, while others, I’ve come to realize more and more in recent years, wouldn’t have a clue. Some have never even heard of Bob Dylan, if you can believe.)
Anyway, sad as that is, sadder still is the fate I’ve apparently left you to in your dotage. There you sit still, outside a tumble-down garage full of way too much stuff of dubious value. Oh, there are some hidden treasures in there no doubt, a few homestead artifacts we were anxious to keep under cover among the other detritus of lives past and present that needs to be sorted out and kept, or not. But there never seemed to be time as winter approached and other things took precedence.
Then time ran out and winter came, with a vengeance, as you know only too well. At least I got that good man with way more technical savvy than I to come and get you running again for a week or two; and at least I got your battery put away and kept it charged up and ready for you again when spring finally came.
In the meantime though the brutal winter just kept coming, and you were almost completely buried in snow. It wasn’t that long ago that it finally melted away around you, I might say, by way of excuses for leaving you still unattended.
And so, as a result of my neglect you’re a sad spectacle: that paint job I gave you so proudly 10 years ago peeling away, a front tire going flat, and heaven knows what other maladies you may have suffered from being exposed to the harsh elements for so many months. Have you ever been so badly treated in the 68 years of your exist? I shudder to think.
A new cartridge filter and five litres of new 10W-30 are tucked away in the nearby shed. But still, I haven’t even found the time to top up your battery, connect you and it up again, and see if you’ll even start.
Yesterday, for example, a hard-working young man and I spent all day picking up and cleaning up the remains of extensive wind damage on the west side of the barn. The work went well. I can see my way clear now to repairing that wall with new barn boards. Then there’s the big hay-loft doors to rebuild. It’s basically still a good old Ontario farm-homestead barn, well-maintained over the years or it probably wouldn’t still be standing. And I want to do my part in making sure that impressive piece of our rural heritage, with its hand-hewn timbers and all, is preserved.
And yet that’s the way I felt about you too. So something’s amiss.
There comes a time in life – indeed, many times perhaps – when you have to take stock of things; and if there’s just too many things going on to do justice to any of them, then you have to realize it’s time to set some things aside, reorganize, and get back to priorities or set some new ones.
It’s not easy, and sometimes that difficult process of change involves getting new tools to deal with priority tasks and issues that can’t be dealt with otherwise.
And that, Mr. Massey-Harris 22, if I may use your full name finally, brings me to the hardest thing I have to tell you: there’s another Mr. Massey coming to Cathedral Drive.
He’s one of your younger cousins – much, younger, relatively speaking, though old enough. He’s a Mr. Massey-Ferguson 65, of 1960s vintage. As you will of course know, he has a three-point hitch, hence the “Ferguson” part of his name, after the Englishman who invented the device that did so much to help farmers do their work. I think it’s fair to say it was literally earth-changing in the field of agriculture.
But I don’t want to think for one moment that you are being replaced, or, Heaven forbid, heading for the scrap yard. My new plan is for you and Mr. Massey-Ferguson to work together as members of the new-to-me team as we get on with the job of getting things done.
I hereby promise to get you running tomorrow, or see to it that you get fixed up to run as soon as possible.
And someday soon you’ll get a new paint job. That’s a promise too.
Originally published in The Sun Times in 2014.
“Mr. Massey” readers may be interested in Legacy Quarterly, a magazine devoted to “Preserving the Legacy of the Massey Harris Ferguson Line.”