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Location: New York, New York, United States

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Swing 2/1/03

A slow, summer morning filled with cartoons and cereal commercials inspired me. I had probably seen one on television where perfectly happy eight-year olds always had perfect new toys. So I asked Dad on a whim. I had decided I must have a tree-swing. I never thought he would actually come through. But then he had an eight-year old heart, too –- I thought all dads did.

Of course the conception of the swing was rather shoddy. He was never one to get lost in the details. Hard at work in the basement, he took my mom’s good broom and sawed off the handle and then tied some twine to either end. I wish I knew how he got it hoisted on that branch. He chose the tallest tree in the whole backyard with the longest trunk. And the thing was the most uncomfortable swing imaginable. The light blue paint chips clung to my little-girl legs as I attempted to move on the contraption. I could only sit on it for a few minutes before the tension of the wooden rod seared into my behind.

We already had a swing-set. But I guess that was beside the point.

Dad was pretty heroic that day. I think I just tried to ignore the pain the swing caused – that he had caused despite himself. I just tried to happily ride it anyway.

I suppose I’ve done that ever since.

When she came home from the grocery store and opened the screen door, my mother appeared a bit dismayed at our triumph in the backyard. Dad had once again broken down the practical tools of life just for fun.

I learned to listen to her that day. The swing was certainly not what I had dreamt of and I had gotten Dad into trouble. And Mom had to buy a new broom. I could see she was really upset but wouldn’t understand why until years later.

It wasn’t until Dad got sick this year that I wished I had never understood.

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