Amer scratched the stubble on his chin while he looked over the rusted bedframe he found sitting by the side of the road. Always a practical man, he found a use for everything. And lord knows, everything wasn’t much these days. “Now why would someone throw away a perfectly useful bedframe?” he mumbled to himself.
He heaved the heavy metal frame into the bed of his equally rusted pickup truck. “I could cut this up and use it for scrap metal,” he thought. “Or, Adda Mae’s birthday’s coming up. First of June. She’d like a swing to put under the apple tree. He could see her gently swinging back and forth in the shade, shelling peas for supper. “That’s it, I’ll make Adda Mae a birthday present.”
Amer had a small welding business. It used to thrive, but with so many people losing their jobs, now he mostly repaired tools and farm equipment. More often than not he was paid with a bag of turnips than with cash. There wasn’t much cash around these days, but at least they’d eat.
Adda Mae had her vegetable garden and her fruit trees. They had a cow for milk, and a flock of chickens. “Yeah, they’d eat” Amer thought as he bent over his welding. He cut the frame in half and put it back together as a bench and back. Then, using left over pieces of metal, he built two side pieces to use as arms. He drilled holes in the arm frames and the bench, then threaded S hooks though the holes. He connected the S hooks with flat rods. He gave the swing a push with his foot. It swung gently back and forth. Satisfied, he closed the shed door and walked towards the house. “Needs paint again,” he thought as he climbed the wooden plank steps to the back porch and swung open the screen door.
Bob drove to the junk yard with a pickup full of scraps from building his house. His father Clarence sat beside him. It was Clarence who spotted the rusted yard swing sitting at the side of the junk yard. “Bobby, look at that swing. It has life in it yet. You should take it home and put in your yard. A new-home gift for Ruth.”
Bob smiled at the thought of Ruth’s smiling reaction to seeing a yard swing. He and Clarence unloaded his pickup and then heaved the heavy yard swing into the bed. They unloaded the swing in Bob’s work shed. Ruth never went out there. She wouldn’t see the swing until he was finished with it.
Bob scraped and sanded the rusted metal, then painted it green. He found a couple of boards and cut them into arm rests, then bolted them to the arms. He and Clarence muscled the swing onto the back patio of the house they were building. “Wait till Ruth sees this” he thought. “She’ll love it.”
Bob was tired. He had worked as a plumber for more than 40 years and his body remembered every damp basement and hot day building new homes. He sat in the yard swing and looked at the golf course, his cold beer sitting on the arm rest. New arm rests since he first refurbished it. And it was painted white now. He and Ruth were moving back to Washington where he grew up. He wanted to build a new home on the golf course. He had already joined the country club where he caddied as a boy. There was no place for the yard swing. “I wonder if one of my daughters wants it,” he mused.
“Yes! I want the swing” Kathy screamed with joy.
It is hot. Sweltering. I am sitting on the swing beneath my fig tree, the fig leaves tickling my cheek. The chickens are talking softly from the other side of the gate. Inside, the TV is on. Marc is watching the Warriors. I’m a casual sports fan at best. The intense and seemingly never-ending series of games bores and overwhelms me. Sitting outside watching the sky darken is a respite from the noise and the stifling heat inside the house.
The screen door opens and Marc walks out. He climbs the steps and joins me on the swing, now rusty again. I need to scrape and sand and paint. The wooden arm rests are long gone. I wonder if I can figure out how to make and attach new ones.
Marc and I swing gently back and forth watching the sky darken. “There! There’s Jupiter.” Marc points out the first light in the sky. Crows fly home. The sky gets darker. Night birds flit by. The chickens to go bed. We swing, enjoying the slightly cooler air, sitting on the yard swing that is older than me. I wonder which of our daughters will want the swing when we’re gone.