The Swinging Tree

Inspired by the Daily Prompt: What does it mean to be a kid at heart?

Artist: Jack Dawson

My Grandfather’s name is Finlay Chatburn  and the one thing you need to know about him is this- He doesn’t look his age-  he’s a kid at heart and I think that must be what keeps him so young looking and lively.

My Grandfather is the guy who puts up Halloween decorations and Christmas Decorations and buys the best fireworks for the 4th of July and New Years Eve.  It’s not just that he decked his halls at the same time every year and through great block parties- but he did it with his favorite top hat festooned with little bones perched on top of his head.

When Grandpa cooled off in the evenings, he would sit on swing that he hung  from the tree in his  yard for my Mom and her little brother who died when he was just six years old.

Stanley was hit by a car on his way home from the store- it was Grandpa who found him on the side of the road on his way home from work that night.

That sort of thing can age a parent, but it didn’t age my Grandpa one bit.


Sometimes I watched  Grandpa  gently swung back and forth on the swing and at other times he just sat there twirling around like a leaf in a lazy stream.


One Halloween I was at Grandpa Finlay’s  helping him string cheesecloth ghosts up in his cherry trees and I asked him if he was really a kid at heart, like everyone said.

” I’m only asking Grandpa because I can’t think of a single kid that would work this hard to hang decorations from about a zillion cherry trees.”

” That’s a fact, Jillana”  he said as he pointed out that one of my ghosts wasn’t as secure on it’s branch as it could be “kids are not what you might call focused. Plus. I’ve had little hyperactive  puppies with more attention to detail then a building full of little kids. ”

” So. Who do you think you are at heart? ” I asked.

Grandpa Finlay strolled over to his swing. He sat down. He pushed himself back and forth and he dragged the toe of his boot. ” I think at heart I’m just a ghost of a young man who spends a lot of time swinging from a tree. ”

I watched Grandpa swinging from his tree and I held that image of him- young looking and carefree for as long as I could and when I couldn’t hold that picture anymore I  turned away from him and walked back into my Grandparent’s house with an cool icy breeze tickling at the back of my neck.

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