The first love of my life stood tall in the front yard, looking at the large chestnut tree which provided shade in the summer and mountains of leaves in the fall. He had the paraphernalia in front of him. A large thick rope, an old car tire, and me, his trusted assistant.
I sat on the grass looking down the steep hill in front—the type of hill meant for sledding on days when all the cars were snowed in; the type of hill meant for complaining when you had to climb back up.
My dad looked at me as he rolled the tire towards the tree. “Okay, I need you to stand here and hold the tire just like this.”
I calmly stood and placed my hand on top of the tire. Dad picked up the rope and tied a large knot at the end. He started to move the rope back and forth till it gathered momentum; he swung and the rope reached high into the sky and fell back down.
“You missed, Dad.”
“Yup. Let’s do this again.”
With a serious look on his face, Dad started to rock the rope again. He swung and he missed. He repeated the process once more. As he swung, he chanted, “The third time’s the charm,” and the rope rose into the sky, arced and landed softly on the other side of the branch.
I looked at my dad with awe. Here was a man who could do all sorts of things. He could run marathons, he could mow the grass, he could trim trees. And now, he could install a tire swing in the front yard.
In my excitement, I jumped for joy. “You did it!” I screamed and clapped my hands together, letting go of the tire only to watch it slowly roll down the grass, off the small retaining wall, onto the driveway, and down Chestnut Street.
“Geesh” my dad yelled between gritted teeth as he hopped off the wall and started to sprint after the tire.
I covered my face with my hands knowing the tire was headed towards Philadelphia Avenue traffic four blocks below—unless my dad could stop it.
“Run Dad,” I hollered into my megaphone hands. The tire bounced as it passed Broad Street; it swerved a little as it passed Church Alley; it gathered speed as it bounded towards Second Street and out of my line of sight. I held my breath as I waited to hear the inevitable sounds of scrunching metal and blaring horns.
Time stood still. In what seemed like hours to my eight year old mind, I waited. Then, slowly, methodically, I saw my dad, my hero, rolling the tire back up the hill. He pushed and rolled and pushed and rolled that tire all the way back up to the house.
He looked at me when he reached the top, picked up the tire and set it down by my feet. “Okay, Al, let’s do this again. But this time, carefully hand me the rope.”