I grew up in the sticks. My early home was an olive green trailer (all you fancy folks might call it a mobile home) placed about 50 yards off of a red dirt road. Behind the trailer stood several acres of woods (fancy word = forest) filled with trails, homemade rabbit traps, tree houses, and forts. Just to the right of the green tin home, there was a small workshop nestled oh-so-close to a huge tree. This tree was the lucky winner of the ‘where do we put our rope swing’ contest.
My cousins, my brother, and I watched, with that nervous excitement that is rarely felt after the age of 13, as my uncle threw the rope over a fat branch and worked on our new playground. Man….. we talked big talk while he worked on that swing. The twins fought over who would swing the furthest. I dared my brother to jump off at the end; and proclaimed I would jump then spin around. My oldest cousin stood the closest and said, “Ya’ll are all gonna be too chicken to jump.” Of course we rolled our eyes at that because we weren’t afraid of anything.
After a while, my neck started to cramp from staring straight up 50 feet. (Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite that high.) I imagined the butterflies that would flutter around my stomach when I got to the top. What if the rope broke? What if my hands slipped? Beads of sweat formed on my forehead, and I quickly wiped them away before my fear was discovered. I peeked over my shoulder at my brother and realized he had moved a little further into the yard and was drawing in the dirt. My oldest cousin backed away and lost his cocky grin. The twins had gone from jumping up and down to quietly pulling weeds out of the ground. Everyone had made their way behind me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the sickening feeling that I would have to go first. Me, little ole Katina, the only girl. No! I decided to wander toward my house and say I had to use the bathroom. Just as I began to weasel away from the group, my uncle looked down and yelled, “All done. Who’s goin first?”
“I will!” I heard her say.
(I think I actually knew she was there before I heard her voice, my granny had that kind of presence.)
Granny climbed the ladder in her long polyester skirt and striped button up blouse. (If a girl wore it, it was a blouse.) I could see red dirt clumps falling from her shoes with each step, and I knew she must’ve come from her garden. We all stared with wonder on our dirty little faces, as our 70 year old, fearless granny reached the top of the shop roof. I held my breath while she adjusted her skirt. I looked at my mama and my uncle standing to the side laughing. I didn’t understand, I was terrified! I yelled out, “Granny, wait!”
She yelled back, “Move youngin, or your gonna get hit!”
I slid to the side just in time to see her leap from the roof. She seemed to fall forever before the rope caught and she flew past me into the sky. I gasped when she zoomed back by, my eyes wide as saucers, amazed at my granny.
This is how she always made me feel. Full of wonder. Ready for adventure. She scared me a little, but that was part of the fun.
I have millions of stories about my granny, but this is one of the last ‘adventures’ I remember having with her before the stupid Alzheimer’s started. Granny’s birthday is tomorrow. I hope there is a rope swing in heaven and she goes first.