“Oh, look.” I strained to see where my wife’s gaze rested. Thinking perhaps she’d spied the two young deer that frequent our expansive back yard to munch on fallen peaches, I moved to stand shoulder to shoulder with her. Peering out beneath the oak grove, I spotted not the two deer, but one girl – my eldest daughter. Alone, she rested astride the old rope swing, gently swaying, now-long legs levitating above the ground. Not quite a silhouette against the painted evening sky. For a moment, my wife and I drank it in.
With twilight quickly approaching, I hastily moved toward the back door. “I’m going to go push her,” I said to my wife.
Closing the door behind me, I shouted down to the girl in the grove, “Hey! How about a push, kiddo?”
The girl’s face beamed back. “Sure!” she replied. I took off at a full sprint, meeting her back swing at just the precise moment to run through her and under her, catapulting her upwards to the
stars high branches above. From that highest point, I heard a small exclamation of joy escape my daughter’s lips.
And suddenly I felt myself transported back in time, back to a time when she was five, not twelve. When her legs didn’t extend so far beyond the old stick upon which she now perched. When pink leggings covered those legs, not the middle school jeans she now donned.
Slowly, the swing returned to a gentle sway. And I watched as her eyes seemed to indicate she, too, was time-traveling. She pointed to a different branch on a different tree, over which a failed second rope swing still hung. “Remember we tried to make a second swing there?” she asked, lightly giggling. Then, she looked to her right. “And up there, I made my own swing under that little tree, because…well, I wanted to see if I could do it. Remember?” I looked. Yes, I remembered. I watched as her gaze silently spanned the entire yard, over the raspberry bushes, across the now-brown patches where the turtles come to lay their eggs in the late spring, past the grape arbor.
“I think I have a memory for every corner of this yard,” she whispered.
And then it hit me. Time is passing. My little girl is now in seventh grade. Time is passing. Time is passing. Indeed. I placed my arm around her shoulder. “Wanna head in for dinner?” I asked.
“Sure,” she replied.