Goodbye swingset, chapter of life

Published 11:48 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It was a swing set with a wooden frame, the kind sitting in lots of backyards. On one side, there were swings on chains, a trapeze bar and tandem swing. The other side had a sliding board with a slanted walk-up instead of a ladder. There was a covered deck at the top of the walk-up in front of the sliding board.

Nothing special as swing sets go, but Saturday morning as I watched my husband tearing it down, it felt special beyond what words can describe. I happened to look out the window as he was dismantling it, yanking the boards off the top, tossing the swings into a pile.

“Wait,” I said, rushing to the door.

Pushing cats out of the way, I yelled across the yard.

“What are you doing?”

“It’s about to fall apart,” my husband said, pulling another board off. “I am afraid someone might get hurt.”

My mind screamed NO! I yelled some babble about leaving the frame so I could hang plants on it.

“It needs to come down,” my husband answered.

I closed the door, knowing better than to argue. That is when the tears started. As I watched the deck part topple and the sliding board fall, tears became a full-fledged crying jag.

In my head, I knew it made no sense, but sadness enveloped me. I had to get it out and crying felt like the best way to move past it.

“Why in the world am I crying like this?” I whispered watching from my bedroom window as the last pieces tumbled down.

As soon as I whispered the question, I knew the answer. It wasn’t losing a piece of playground equipment causing the sadness; it was what that loss signified in my mind.

When we bought the swing set, my youngest child, my sweet baby girl was just past being toddler. The nice, new wooden set replaced a smaller metal one we put up when she was a baby.

The new one costs more than we’d ever spent on something that was basically a toy. Oh, but the joy on that child’s face the first time she was able to climb the ramp and slide down that slide made it worth every penny we paid.

I spent many days pushing her on those swings and lifting her up to grab the trapeze bar. Sometimes, I watched as she and one or the other of my granddaughters flew back and forth on the tandem swing.

When she got too big for the swings, I’d sit at my window and see sunshine sparkling on the chains. I’d smile and in my mind see my baby swinging and laughing.

Now, it was gone. As I looked out the window, there was an empty space, and something inside of me felt equally empty.

“It is really over,” I whispered. “That part of my life is over.”

Yes, silly as it seems, the swing set going away closed a chapter in my life I didn’t realize was, in my head, still open. The days of little ones running around, swinging, sliding, laughing, crying, needing kisses on boo-boos and stories before bed are in the past.

Funny thing, I don’t have the energy or desire to chase a toddler or push a child on a swing for hours, but the realization that those times were over still made me cry.

Later, I tried to explain to my husband — without crying — why I needed a warning before the demolition.

“I thought those same things,” he said, giving me a hug. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before I started tearing it down.

This morning as I sipped my coffee, I looked out the bedroom window at the spot the swing set once occupied. Shadows danced on the ground as sun poured through the trees. The Saturday emptiness felt a little less empty today.

“Time to fully embrace my next chapter,” I whispered. “It’s going to be a good one.”


  Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.