When I was four, my father fastened a swing onto the large branch of a massive oak tree in our front yard. In its shade, close to its protective trunk, he constructed a sandbox. These two items served as magnets to every child within a block’s radius. As a result, I was seldom without company. But even more than the companionship of other children, I enjoyed the times Daddy pushed me on the swing.
That was magic—just Daddy and I, the two of us together! After he lifted me into the seat, he grabbed the rope and then backed up until I was as high as he could reach—it seemed to me at least 10 feet off the ground! There he held me for a few seconds while I eagerly anticipated his signal: “Here goes!” Then, with a mighty shove that nearly scooted the swing from under me, Daddy sent me arcing to the treetop.
Back and forth, with Daddy pushing and me kicking, each urging the other to greater efforts, our laughter mingling in the balmy summer air, we shared the excitement of reaching for the sky. Higher and higher I climbed—reaching the knothole that protruded like a belly button midway between the ground and the spot where the trunk branched off.
Next, I was flying past the first large branch that angled out like a benevolent arm. Daddy and I worked in unison now, concentrating on reaching the summit: shove, kick, pull, shove, kick, pull. Then, with a shiver of thrill, I was at the peak—the swing seemed to want to continue on its own. The ropes grew slack, then pulled taut with a jerk on the descent. Happy, fearful, and trusting, I yelled for Daddy to quit pushing. He moved a few feet away so he could see my face, and while I enjoyed the gradual swinging ride back to earth, we talked about our day.
Throughout my childhood, my father stood behind me, cheerfully urging me upward, laughing at my excitement, crying at my sorrows, always eager to listen. Now I am grown and live far from my earthly father. But I still have loving support because he taught me to take my laughter, sorrow, and trials to my Heavenly Father. And I still reach for the sky.
Terry Chapman, a member of the San Diego 16th Ward, serves as assistant family history librarian in the San Diego California East Stake.