Sunday July 14, 2013

There's a big empty space in our back yard tonight.  Today, I dismantled our old wooden swing set.

With rotting boards and rusty bolts, it was time.  It had a good run - built as a birthday present to Shannon for her third birthday, some twelve years ago now.  We had moved into our new house with the big yard the year before, and there was now a baby sister, so Shannon needed a place to go and play.

Then the neighbor girls, Abby and Tessa, became playmates and that swing set saw a lot of action.  It was a ship, it was a fort, it was a picnic spot.  It had a sandbox and a teeter totter and swings and rings and monkey bars.  Hours of endless fun.

There was always a new make believe game thought up by Abby and Shannon, the older sisters.  Tessa and Erin would follow along until there were too many instructions from the big sisters, and then all hell would break loose.

As the girls got older and braver,  they would swing high enough to make the whole structure sway, and make mom nervous.  They loved that.  It served a purpose in the winter, too, as Shannon developed a method of placing a sled at the end of the slide, then sliding down into it to propel herself down the hill in the back yard.

Even the erecting of the swing set is part of our family lore.  My dad offered to help me build it.  See, I get my instruction-following-concrete-sequential ways from him.  Dan, on the other hand, took one look at the 48 page instruction manual and the hundreds of nuts and bolts and washers and said, "How about I watch the kids?"

As Dan watched the kids, Papa and I went to work.  Dan came out at one point to "visit" with us, but when we are working on a project, we just focus on the project.  Dan commented to us that "There's not a lot of friendly banter out here."  My dad and I explained "We're working!"  Dan couldn't understand that, and eventually, we not-so-politely told him to leave us alone...

So, today I pulled apart those carefully placed nuts and bolts, and I cried like a baby.  It's silly and it's only symbolic, but it still got to me.

A big empty space, for sure...