Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster
Recently, my wife and I met our grandson for lunch at a restaurant about equal-distance between our current living spaces.
Grandson Logan is a solidly-built, stocky young man of 27 who shares a home with two other dudes.
If Logan puts on a plaid shirt, he reminds me of the “Brawny Paper Towel” guy.
Our first grandchild is a wonderfully nice young man but he’s a bit of a “beer snob”.
While I settle for “cold and free”, he likes the stuff which is brewed with all sorts of unique flavors and elements.
But he knows his beers.
After a delightful lunch which included the perfunctory dessert of “something gooey and chocolaty”, we departed, but not until he sent his Grandma home with a ballcap and a pair of jeans in need of sewing repairs.
It’s what Grandma’s do.
Later that same week, I was on the deck in the backyard to start “deconstructing” an old porch swing of ours.
When we originally bought it years ago, it came in a flat box with sketchy descriptions and the hardware needed to assemble it.
We attached chains and hooks to it and hung it to a 4X4 that stretched from side-to-side on the backyard gazebo we built (also from a kit).
The gazebo and wooden swing was probably the the focal point of our backyard in those days.
But several years ago, we noticed the entire gazebo had a tendency to swing when you sat on the wooden bench.
So, down came the gazebo but not before I salvaged two things.
The swing was saved along with a special octagon block made out of 2X8’s constructed by my Father-in-law and his brother.
This customized item gave us a way to secure the 8 trusses together at the center peak of the roof.
Eventually, the swing was attached to a free-standing frame we built that sat on the ground and still enabled us to sit and swing.
But the ravages of constant weather exposure began to take it’s toll on the swing.
I told my wife, I needed to take it apart and get rid of it before somebody sat down and ended up on their keister.
As I was unscrewing this homemade outdoor furniture piece, my bride of more than 50 years came by and took a chunk of wood off my scrap pile.
It was the top piece of the swing seat back.
As she walked away, she said, “You know, when Logan was a baby I used to sit on this bench and hold him in my lap and swing on the old gazebo.”
Just then in my minds eye, I saw my wife with that little guy, slowly rocking back and forth on the bench I was now tearing apart.
It suddenly got hard to see as my eyes teared up with the memories.
That big 6 foot plus guy we had lunch with earlier in the week used to fit nicely in Grandma’s lap in the backyard. on the bench swing.
I think they both equally enjoyed swinging.
I grew up in a town that for many years would simply tear down old buildings and structures and build new facilities that by-in-large were cold and impersonal.
But I got it.
Sometimes it’s cheaper to start over than trying to rehab old buildings and such.
But this community we live in now does a nice job of rehabbing worthy structures and it makes where we live special.
Just like that old porch swing used to do at the palatial Foster estate.
I’m glad my wife salvaged that piece of wood.
Practical people will snort and say, “John, it’s just a piece of weathered wood.”
True enough, but now when I look at it, I remember a time when we were all a bit younger and maybe somewhat innocent.
Remember that block of wood I mentioned that my Father-in-law and his brother assembled for the old gazebo?
We hung on to it and when we put a metal roof awning on our backyard barn, that “wooden joint” was converted into a lamp which hangs from one of the trusses.
It’s hooked up to a timer, so every night, it sheds some light on our backyard.
It’s probably not the most-stylish light in the world, but when I see it, I can’t help but briefly remember my crafty Father-in-law who passed away several years ago.
We haven’t decided yet where we’re going to put that decorative piece of the swing seat back my wife saved.
I think it would look nice on the wall of our backyard barn.
It would be illuminated nightly for a few hours by the wood block light we built and be somewhat protected by the weather.
Kinda crazy to be so attached to a couple of chunks of wood, don’t you think?
But not so much when you consider the memories kept alive by those pieces of lumber.
Neav, again, thanks for salvaging that seat back.