"To live in hearts we leave behind . . . is not to die."  Thomas Campbell

"Come push me! Grandpa, push me!
Higher! Go higher! Grandpa!
Oh, push me higher, Grandpa!"
Toes to reach high up in the tree.

It's just a rope and a simple board,
Knotted high to a solid cedar limb.
Only the right tree would do for "The Swing,"
A tree with limbs lifting upward
To the sky, the wispy clouds, and Him.
Yes, just the right tree for "The Swing."

There grew such a special tree
That Henneberg children came to love.
It became the perfect tree for "The Swing."
In the early years it grew straight and free
While the coffee bean tree took the shove
From many a hand put to its swing!

To be sure, the tree grew strong and sturdy
Right there south of the house, in the yard,
Not far from the mailbox gate,
The lilac bushes, irises and tulips.
"The Swing" appeared, perhaps in the 30's.
Now the worn ground underneath is hard
And packed from feet that couldn't wait
To swing into an imaginary tree trip.

Francie's imagination brought out the best
After watching swinging vines in a Tarzan movie.
She would run, grab the rope, swing up in the air
And jump to the ground, in a style like Tarzan.
A trip to Wamego for the 4th of July fest
Gave way to another feat, quite groovy!
Trapeze artists provided the idea of a dare
To fly through the air, holding the rope with one hand.

Grandpa to Skeeter; Dad to Francie, out in the yard,
An irresistable challenge to both he would give
To see who could climb the rope the fastest!
Off they raced, climbing like sailors to the limb -
Ouch, rope-burned hands to be softened with lard.
Skeeter, being a bit younger, had hopes to live
To the day he would beat Francie to the test.
Francie, the best climber, left this Skeeter's whim.

Sometimes the kids would swing together,
Pumping in unison for added velocity.
But, what we all liked best was to swing alone
Letting the inner spirit go free,
Pumping with all our will, in all weather.
To swing as high as possible was not a rarity,
Then leap out as the swing hit its highest throne.
Beth Ann standing under the rising swing with glee,
Over her, Woody would float like a feather!

Sunday afternoons at Grandma and Grandpa's house
With cousins in tow, Uncle George would push the swing.
Then to our delight, Grandpa would push us later on
When, in the house, all visiting was done.
As we waited our turn on the swing, around the house
We would run to play in the sand bin, with such zing,
Or pick hollyhocks, until they were all gone!
Cousins in a bunch, we always had such fun.

1947 came and went,
The three youngest by the swing,
With Francie being eleven,
Eva, a young lady at fifteen,
At nineteen, Milton a gent.
About ready to take wing
Like the rest of the seven,
Fay, Mary, Vera, and Dean.

The rope became tattered and worn.
The trusty old north limb gave way
To time and exertions of happy children,
As did the lives of Grandpa and Grandma.
The house stood empty and the swing alone.
In 1975, the house came to adorn
A family with a small child to again play
In the cedar tree on a swing in the sun.
While not a board, but a tire swing, Jonathan saw.
With breezy smiles on his face, life again shown.

With tulip in hand,
"Push me! Push me!
Higher! Go higher, Mom!
Push me higher, Mom!"
Tiny toes touched the imagination
Of "The Swing."

Copyright Deborah K Berges, 2000 (reprinted with permission)

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