When I was a little girl, the most comforting sound I knew was the rhythmic squeak of Grandma’s porch swing. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
Gram was fifty-four years old the day of my parents’ accident, the day I was born. She always said if it wasn’t for me, grief would’ve consumed her. As an infant, on warm summer evenings she rocked me to sleep on that trusted swing. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
It was there that I listened to her stories of the past, stories that brought my parents to life for me and taught me who I was. Many nights, we sat there talking into the wee hours of the morning: the night I received my first kiss, the night before I went away to college, the night Adam proposed. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
In inclement weather, the rocking chair in the parlor played substitute for the swing. I once asked her why she rocked so much. Her answer was simple, even though I didn’t have the capacity to understand it at the time. “Rocking helps me to keep moving, even when I haven’t the strength to do it on my own,” she said. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
That familiar sound was the reminder of the one true constant in my life. I missed it terribly when I went to college. I lived for the breaks and long weekends that allowed me to go home. Somehow, hearing that sound throughout the day helped me to sleep more soundly at night. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
Once Adam and I married, we settled in the same town to be near Gram. Our first apartment didn’t afford us the proper porch for a swing of our own. It wasn’t long before we bought a home with just such a porch. The first warm spring day after we moved in, Adam spent an afternoon building and hanging our swing while Gram and I supervised. That evening began our own legacy of rocking together. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
That July, I learned I was pregnant with our first child. I couldn’t wait to tell the woman with whom I’d shared my whole life. I drove straight to her home from the doctor’s office. I expected to find her on the porch, rocking. She wasn’t there. It was odd to find the front door still locked from the previous night. I let myself in with my key. I ran through the house calling for Gram, stopping short when I saw she was still in bed. Panic seized me as I rushed into the room. Gram had passed away. I cried for what seemed like hours before I found myself and called Adam. I gave Gram one last kiss on the cheek and went to the porch to wait. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
As I rocked, I prayed that God would take care of her, reunite her with my parents, and keep her safe until the day I could join her. I was soothed by the sound of the swing as it lulled me into a peaceful place. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
Nine months later, our daughter, Isabella Marie Duncan was born. I couldn’t wait for the warm weather that would allow me to introduce her to the porch swing. In the meantime, I had Gram’s rocker. Those first few weeks with Isabella were spellbinding. She had the ability to draw me in with her beautiful baby coos and powdery smell. I spent hours rocking her and drinking in the miracle of her presence. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
As much as I loved my daughter, I found myself overcome with exhaustion and depression. I recognized my post-partum symptoms, and had Adam make an appointment with the doctor. That night, as I sat rocking Isabella to sleep, Gram’s words of long ago floated back to me.
“Rocking helps me to keep moving, even when I haven’t the strength to do it on my own.”
It was as if she were whispering the words in my ear. I felt as though a warm breeze touched my cheek and when I looked down at my daughter in my lap, she was looking up at me through her beautiful baby eyes. I knew everything would be okay. Eek, eek; eek, eek.
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