If I could turn back time, this is one of the memories I would roll it back to. The lovely lady in the photo is my grandmother Lillian Blanche Neibrandt (nee Bailey). I was lucky enough to know her as Nana and to live across the farmyard from her as a child and young adult. The baby is our oldest son Graham Denison. Together they form the team who inspired the writing of Nana’s Magic Swing.
The truth is, almost every day I ran across that farmyard, pushed open that shiny silver gate and ran down that sidewalk to the big white house with the bright red door, where I didn’t actually knock at all, because it was my second home. I knew every dip and bump in that path.
Once inside the house Nana served milk or juice in the tiniest little colored plastic glasses ever sold. And we talked. I told her everything that was happening in my life. We talked and reminisced about things that had happened in the family over the weeks and years. Sometimes we played pick-up sticks. Sometimes we sat on the garden swing in her beautiful yard and talked some more.
Occasionally I showed up on her doorstep with a litany of complaints about my life across the yard. You know, picking weeds, or worse yet, picking stones from the field to throw onto the back of a moving stone boat. And I learned. I learned that no matter how much I complained I would get a hearing, but at the end of the session she would tell me my Mom and Dad loved me and send me home. I knew the privilege of having someone listen intently to me, and the gift of having someone love me enough to let me deal with my own childhood notion of what constituted a problem.
I was also blessed to have her live long enough to make it possible for Graham to remember running across that farmyard, pushing open that shiny silver gate and running down that sidewalk to the big white house with the bright red door. And to remember running back out that bright red door and across the soft green grass to play a special game on that same garden swing which, somehow, in the intervening years, had turned MAGIC.