Swing Time Me and My Dad

 

Not surprisingly, one of my earliest memories is of my father
telling me, “You’re run of the mill, Iris. Just run of the mill.”

Maybe it was my first lesson in intuition, insight and savvy. I knew
by the way he said it that what he meant was, “You’re special. Very special.”

And so the dance began.

In 1947, my father was a young GI coming home from Europe to his
war bride, my mother. I was born within a year of his returning stateside,
part of the first wave of baby boomers.

Eventually my mom and dad moved out of my grandparent’s house
into their own place. The wooden kitchen cabinets were painted yellow.
A “Lazy Susan” was bought for Sunday night dinners of corned beef,
pickles and rye bread. A deep maroon paisley couch with tassels was picked
out and delivered.

So was a metal swing set.

The swing set was new, bright,
shiny, massive and all mine.

My dad worked all day assembling
the metal monster as I sat and watched. After hours of tedious labor,
he dug four holes in which to place
the swing set’s main poles. To my surprise, he set the poles in concrete.

Most dads just dug a shallow hole and set the swing set’s main support
poles in the dirt. Swinging kids squeaked with terror and delight as
the whole structure rose, shuttered and fell back into place.

Perhaps sensing my fear, my dad grounded my swing set so
I could swing as high as I wanted, unencumbered by the fear that the
entire mass would become airborne.

I remember the first time I planted my bottom on the red metal seat, bent
my knees and swung my feet forward, looking at the tips of my white Keds
and aiming for the moon. “Okay, Daddy. You can push me now,” I
screamed. “Real high.”

The years passed. I went to college. Married. Divorced. Remarried.
Had kids and baked cookies. Drove the car pools. Always with back-up,
behind-the-scenes coaching from my dad.

More years passed. My own kids moved away. I still came home to
visit.

By then, the swing set was old and rusty. The push-off mound was
sunken in with shallow gullies. The chains, disjointed.

Like me, the swing set was well past the half-century mark. Despite
this, we were both firmly grounded, strong and steady.

On this day, I approached the red seat warily. Can it hold me? I settled
in. Slowly pushed off and up. I arched my back and hung on tight.

Okay, Daddy,” I said softly to myself. “You can push me now. Real
high.”

Iris Ruth Pastor is a slice-of-life author, blogger and motivational speaker.
Reach her at irisruthpastor@gmail.com

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