By Judith Nastally
My Dad was an incredible man. He was always supportive of me and my career endeavors. He always told all of us, his children, we could do or be whatever we wanted, as long as we were willing to work hard for our goals. As I prepared to launch my landscaping company nine years ago, he offered to help me. He had no idea of the physical challenges that lay ahead. I already had a design business and as I prepared to leave the landscaping retail designer and manger position I had held for ten years, clients began to emerge that wanted my expertise. I gathered more clients and really needed his help. Our shared appreciation of details and delivering outstanding customer service meshed well as we built my business. It was not always smooth sailing. My dad and I are fiery individuals and we fought and laughed our way through many jobs.
Sweating in the sweltering heat of Indiana summers and dressing in layers in spring and fall we gained confidence and grew stronger physically but also built a lovely closeness that I couldn’t have imagined when I was younger. During one particularly hot week with temperatures and humidity in the 90’s he said “I think it’s not that bad out today.” I said “really Dad??” We were sweating like we had taken a shower but had only just started our work. Dad had no experience to prepare him for using his physical body more than his incredible intelligence. During his first radiation appointment with Dr. Chang, the doctor looked at Dad, Jeff, and I, wearing our turquoise J. Lynne Associates polo shirts, dirty and sweating, Dr. Chang then asked Dad “why do you look so good?” ( While he was so ill.)
He was up for many challenges and I grew to rely on his constant steady strength and excellent problem solving. One of my fondest challenges was moving a huge evergreen tree, weighing more than one hundred and fifty pounds up a ninety degree incline with Jeff pulling and us pushing. At one point Jeff wanted to stop and both Dad and I shouted “NO!” We knew we would have rolled down the hill with the tree. When we cut electric power lines lying close to the ground, I would have called an electrician to fix the outdoor lights, but Dad said “it’s no problem.” He knew how to fix it and usually made it better than it was before we began, by leveling lamp posts, touching up paint, and staking lights during our installations. When clients had things that needed tending to, I would have suggested they call and expert, but Dad quietly fixed those things as he worked.
He had a ‘can do’ attitude about solving problems and actually loved adversity. I have grown use to using his razor sharpened tools with freshly painted handles that he took such pride in renewing for us every season. When I purchased a weed torch Dad was the first one to fire it up. He loved using new tools. I once accidentally warped a small piece of siding at a client’s house using the torch. We offered to repair the damage and our client laughed so loud it took us by surprise. Dad worked last spring in 2018, driving the truck for us even though he could hardly walk (anemia was taking away his strength). Alex, a young man in his early 20’s, who works for me, adored my Dad. He loved his stories and admired his strength and humor. He told me how watching my Dad out work him many times made him want to increase his own strength. He is working on that now.
My Dad would often tell people proudly that he worked for his daughter, who owns her own landscaping company, and “I am her #1 hole digger!” Of course, he was so much more than this, but his pride was evident in his warm smile and twinkling eyes.