The Spirit Swing

by Marilyn Ostrofsky (March 2012)


It’s sort of complicated—what happened with the swing—how magical it was—and not until the very end, but that’s the best kind of tale to tell.


The big, reinforced box arrived for my thirteenth birthday. It came by UPS, with no sender’s name, and it never got opened for me. On the outside was a drawing of a wooden, three-seat swing, and how I wanted it to get put together and set up in the backyard, but that was impossible because Mom was ill, Dad was gone, and my three brothers were busy struggling with their own lives. So the carton remained closed in the garage.


Many years later, when I moved to a home with my own family, the box, still unopened, came with us. It just never seemed the right time to put the swing together, so the carton remained in still another garage. Finally, at the next home, it was moved to a shed.


So why was I hauling around this carton? Finally, after all those years, my younger son, Lonny, made the swing a reality. By then he was in his early twenties, and slowly passing from this world due to one of those conditions that one prays never to get. In between treatments he was restless and bored, so the box began to intrigue him. Even exhausted, he freed the parts from the, by then, dilapidated container, and dragged the pieces to the clearing in the backyard woods. Using his father’s tools, he slowly and deliberately constructed the swing.


Watching this project from the kitchen window was difficult for me, as I cringed at every stumble and cough, but little by little, my forgotten swing was transformed into his. He was energized by the work, and soon the area became a get-together for him and his many friends. The woods echoed with music and laughter during the time that he had left.


For almost a decade, the swing remained empty, just swaying in the wind, like the trees around it. Then at one of our backyard barbeque parties, something very strange and wonderful happened. Our quests gathered under the deck lights, but the woods were murky, so my 5 year old granddaughter Emily was afraid of the dark path. She took my hand, and together we ventured toward the swing. Shaking with fear, she held on tight as we swung back and forth in the gloom on the old structure.


After five minutes something magical happened, as Emmie let go of my hand and announced in a tiny voice: “He told me not to be afraid, and although the swing had to live at Grandma’s for now, it belonged to her.”


Believe if you will—deny if you must, but the magic of that moment continues as Emmie comes regularly with her friends to Grandma’s to dance in the woods, and go to and fro on the old wooden swing; the swing that Lonny would not let be forsaken.


I just can’t wait until her parents try to move it to their house!!!!!