Story last updated at 6/10/2009 - 1:35 pm
"You gave your word. Your word is your bond."
Nora Schwartz grew up in Pendleton, Ore. That's where she learned a thing or two about the importance of keeping a vow.
"I was a young teen, and I needed a summer job," Schwartz recalled. "About the only thing out there for girls was babysitting. But one day a neighbor lady asked if I'd mow her lawn. Well, I saw this great amount of money; I was going to make a million bucks, you know!" she said with a laugh.
During supper that evening, George and Ann Schwartz listened to their daughter brad about her new-found income.
"She wants me to use her push mower!" Schwartz exclaimed. She gave little thought of pushing a forty-pound steel mower in Pendleton's heat.
Her father held his fork still. "Oh? And you agreed to do this?"
"You gave your word," he said. "Your word is your bond."
"Daddy said that giving my word was making a vow. My whole being as a person was wrapped in to that vow. People sold land on their word - a vow is not to be broken. Well, I told him I'd mow the neighbor's lawn each week through the summer," she said.
The excitement of a growing bank account dwindled when summer's heat elevated the outside mercury. Schwartz returned home early one morning.
"Did you finish mowing?" asked Ann.
"No, I've had it. It's too hot!" Schwartz said. "But I mowed half the lawn."
Around 4 p.m., George returned home, worn out from his sheet metal job. That's when the ball dropped.
"Do you know what your word is?" he asked. "You're going to have to go back. You're going to mow that lawn for the whole summer. You made a contract, and your word is your contract."
For 10 long weeks, Schwartz's calloused hands pushed the mower's wooden handles. Sweat from her forehead stung her eyes. But with each row of freshly-cut grass, she remembered the lesson Dad taught in keeping his own word to others, even through exhaustion.
"I realized I'd better be careful what I do, because it speaks of my character," she said. "When we keep our word, we receive a blessing and we grow."
It was a lesson well-spoken from the supper table: "You gave your word. Your word is your bond."
Judy Halone may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.