One…twoooooo…THREEEE!! The young mom on the other side of the fence was swinging her little ones as I jabbed at the clay in my sorry garden plot. I think most of us know the ritual count required for swinging children. “One” and “two” are drawn out in order to make the anticipation as unbearable as possible as the swing is pulled up a little higher and a little higher, with that white-knuckled orb-eyed trusting little person sitting in it. Then “THREE!” at the highest point, and the letting-go, the joyful shriek, giggles, the plea for more. The numbers tumbled over the fence in light-hearted rhythmic trinity.
Another jab or two at the clay — would it ever be real soil? — as the numbers sank into me.
Toward the end, when dementia was tightening its death grip on him, Dad became very weak; getting up from his favorite chair, a recliner, was hard. Visiting Nurses taught me how to help him; there was a certain placement for my feet, a certain way to hold on to Dad, and then the count: “One… two…THREE!” Dad pushed, I pulled, and up he came.
The first time Dad said “Do one-two-three,” I didn’t understand him. Then I realized he was telling me he wanted to get up. Do one-two-three? My father? The man with the Master’s degree in mathematics? The physics teacher? The writer, historian, quoter of all things Shakespearean and Dickensian? Manager, speaker, violinist ? Do one-two-three?
The hard clay seemed suddenly defiant and mean. One final, angry jab and I gave up on it.