Yesterday I was on an after dinner walk with my wife Kari, and daughters Ashley and Rebecca. As we wound our way back through the neighborhood, I headed toward the park to deposit some of the trash I had picked up on the walk in the trash bin adjacent to the playground. I saw the swings and couldn’t resist. I hopped on one and began swinging. The girls soon joined in, with Rebecca also swinging, Ashley opting to walk on the balance beam and with Kari heading for the main play set. I followed Kari on the bouncy bridge, across the pedestal bridge, and back on to the wobbly bridge that lead to the corkscrew pole, in which, of course, I had to spin down.
The memories of taking the kids to this park when they were young came flooding back. Having to hold hands as they made it across the wobbly bridge; lifting Ben up to the monkey bars to help him get around; giving ‘underdogs’ to all three of them on the swings; to even our dog Lucky, teaching him how to climb the steps to take a trip down the slide. We maybe spent five minutes playing around before heading home.
Today I started my noontime run, which takes me past that very same park, and I was shocked to discover it was gone. All of the equipment removed.
It was surreal to me. The park was now surrounded by some plastic caution tape, acting as a barrier to keep others away. But it was almost like crime scene tape to me – someone had stolen the park that had generated all those memories that we had just recalled. For the next 7 miles, I thought only about that park and the times I spent there with the kids.
I’m sure the park district has plans to replace the park with newer equipment, equipment that will be just as much fun to the kids of today as the old stuff was to my kids. But the memories of playing at our park, will now just be what we have stored in our minds, with no physical equipment to hop on to rekindle those memories.
I am glad I made that stop at the park last night. It was like being drawn there to say goodbye to an old friend, without even knowing they were leaving. I wish I had more pictures to remember it by.