Taking a little stroll to the park this morning. It's been a long time since i visited the place. The sun is shinning, but it is not too hot because the sky is pretty cloudy too. The scenery doesn't change too much. Trees are still covering the street. The yellow sidewalk inspired by "The Wizard of Oz" is still here. I'm glad that they didn't repaint it. This is really nostalgic to say the least.
The walk to the park seems to have ended since my destination appears in front of my. Still that same steel gate, but a little rusty. Well, it's already 19 years anyway. Let see how much my beloved park has changed. I walk through the gate. And much to my surprise, unlike the way to the park, it has changed A LOT.....
Back in the day when i was still a kid, Dad used to take me out to the park. My dad, he was a jet pilot (those commercial airliners not fighter jets) so he was pretty much never at home. But when he does get a chance to have a day off, he usually would take me out to play in the park. Dad, even though he's an adult, seemed so excited everytime he went there. You might even say that he was more eager to go to the park than me.
That day, just like every of his days off, he took me out to the park. In the morning, he would come and personally wake me up. I was still asleep so he dragged me out and put me in the bathroom. He was so pushy that day. After eating breakfast, we went out of the house. Dad and i raced to the park, it was so fun because i got to see his childish side
That park was always full of kids on weekends. There were so many things you can do there, like playing catch, frisbee, see-saw. Me and dad however, we love the swing. Dad would push me while i was sitting on it. And then Dad sat on the swing next to me and started pushing himself using his legs. If i had been bigger, i would've helped him. We usually imagined ourselves flying fighter jets. I love the feeling of sitting on a swing. I could feel as if i were flying. I guess being the son of a pilot can make you love flying. Genetics are so weird... How i wish the moment hadn't stopped, but it did. The following day, my dad left for his job again but this time, he never came back. His plane crashed for some unknown reason and his body were never found. Since then I stopped going to the park
My childhood memories stop when i feel something tugging on my sleeves
"Daddy, daddy, is this the place you went to when you were young?" My son asks
The day before, me and my family agreed that on Sunday we would come and visit Mom. I also told my son about that playground where i used to go with his grandfather. After hearing about it, he got so excited that he wouldn't go to be for two straight days. That kid was so pushy, i wonder where he got it from.... "Oh yeah, my dad" I kinda smirked at my own remark.
"Yes Henry, this is the place where i used to play with my Dad"
"Your dad? You mean Grandpa?"
"Yes, with Grandpa"
"But why does it look so empty?"
The place looks really empty. The last time i was here, it was packed with people. But now, it doesn't look like many come here anymore even if it's a Sunday. I guess people are too busy with their lives to even enjoy a little fresh air.
"It's better when it's empty Henry"
"Why is it Dad?"
"Because we can have the park for ourselves. Now how about i show you my favorite spot"
"Okay Dad" Henry smiles
"C'mon let's go go go"
Henry and i run there. Now it all comes back to me why i loved the park so much. We reach there, my favorite spot, it was still the same as i remember it. I'm thankful that they didn't do anything to my spot
"Is that your favorite spot? The swing?"
"Yes, that swing holds a lot of memories of me and your grandpa. We would sit on the swing and imagine ourselves as fighter jet pilots going on top secret missions"
"That sounds cool....Dad, can we play it?"
"You want to play it now?"
"Yes Dad "
"Sit on the swing then"
Henry then sits on the swing. So this is what you did when i was young too right Dad? It seems like history is repeating itself. I would never thought that one day i could be playing this again. But this time not as a son, i'm a father now. Seeing how my son is having fun just like i did, i'm starting to tear up a little.
"Stilson? John Stilson? Is that you? Sweet mother Jesus my old eyes, i thought you were dead? How could you be here?"
Startled by someone calling my dad's name behind me, i turn around.
"Huh? You're not Stilson, but you look a lot like him..... Wait, don't tell me, you're little Tim? Well, not that little anymore. Wow! Am i glad to see you. How long has it been since you were here with your dad? Like...."
"...19 years Mr.Green"
Mr.Green, he's an old friend of my dad. He's been the keeper here even before i was born. I guess he still has the same job.
"Yeah, 19 years. It's a damn long time. You look really grown up now Tim. How are you?"
"I'm good Mr.Green. I'm actually here visiting my mom"
"How is your mother?"
"She looks a bit older but still as healthy as ever. My wife is actually at home with her"
Mr.Green makes a "surprise" face as i mention my wife. I guess he never heard the news that i got married
"You have a wife? Time sure flies. It seems like yesterday kids were playing in this park and now they all get married..... So i guess that kid is your son right?"
"Yes, that's my son"
I signals Henry to come here
"Henry, this is Mr.Green. He's the park keeper. Say hello to him" I tell him
"Hello Mr.Green" says Henry
"Goodness Tim, your son is exactly like you. And you look exactly like your dad. Crazy genetics in your family huh? If only my daughter would look more like me"
"Mr.Green, i don't think it would good if your daughter looks like you"
"Haha, i know, i'm just kidding. So why are you here anyway?"
"I'm taking my son to this park because he wants to see it so much. By the way Mr.Green, why is the park so empty today? I thought it would be packed with people? Well that's how i remember this park was anyway"
"I guess you didn't not hear the news Tim. They are going to demolish the park tomorrow."
"What? Tomorrow? But why?"
"I think they're going to build a new mall here and a new parking lot"
"And you're okay with that Mr.Green?"
"Well, actually everyone is okay with that. Nobody has come to the park for the last few years so they definitely need something new. For me, i'm at the retirement age right now but i'm still going to this park everyday for my job. Maybe with this i can finally give it a rest and relax."
Maybe it's correct when they say that "Nothing lasts forever". The news is too sudden to me but i'm not that sad. I always know that someday this park might disappear. Well, at least i can enjoy the last day of the park with my son. I'm gonna make this the best day of his life.
We spend the rest of the morning playing in the park. When we finally get back to mom's house, it's already lunch time. Sitting in front of the house knitting together are my mom and Debra, my wife. Henry immediately runs to his two favorite women in the world
"Mom! Grandma!" Henry shouts. That kid still has the energy left to run, youngster are really great.....Or i'm just getting old
"Oh Henry dear, did you have fun with your dad?"
"Yes i did Grandma. Daddy shows me a lot of fun stuff in the park, but the funnest is the swing."
"The swing again? You Stilson boys really love the swing don't you?"
"Okay Henry, it's time for lunch. Go upstair and take a shower before you eat okay" Debra told Henry
Henry and his mom walk inside the house. While i sit next to my mom
"Hey mom, did you hear that they are going to destroy the park tomorrow?"
"Yes dear, i heard it"
"Do you think it's right that the town hall wants to destroy it?"
"Of course not, i think me and a lot of people think that it's not right"
"Then why no one tries to protect it?"
"Well Tim honey, i think the reason why nobody wants to protect it because the park has been a landmark of our town. We love to keep it that way but as you can see, no one goes to the park anymore. And the condition of the place is getting worse and worse as the years passed. Old Mr.Green also needs his rest too. That's why we all agree that a change must be made"
"You're right... It's just that the park has so memories of me and my dad that it seems hard to just let go"
"I know you're sad honey. But memories are beautiful if they simply stay as memories"
Seeing how everyone accepts this harsh truth, i feel kind of relieved too since at least people will remember this park as something precious to this town
With all of my uneasiness gone, i stand up and get inside the house to have lunch. We stay there for about three more hours. Mom makes her signature chocolate cake. I've never tasted anything this delicious since Debra make her apple pie.
"So between my chocolate cake and her apple pie, which is better?" Mom asks
"Yeah Tim, whose is better?"
Boy oh boy, the pressure is enough to kill me. Why do those two women love to compete with each other? But i guess it's better than hating each other and never talk to each other
"Both are really good"
With glares coming from two pairs of eyes, i think i just signed my death wish
. . . . . . . . .
It is already afternoon so it's time to go home. We bid goodbye to my mom
"Bye Grandma" Henry hugs mom
"Bye Henry dear, come back and see me again"
"Bye Lucile" Debra also hugs mom
"Bye Debra. Next time teach me how to make your special apple pie okay"
"Okay Lucile i will, but you have to teach me how to make chocolate cake too"
"That's a deal"
As Debra and Henry are busy saying goodbye, i look towards the direction of the park. I guess when i come back here, it won't be there anymore.
"Saying good bye to the park?"
"Ah! Gosh mom, you gotta stop scaring me like that"
"You're a father now, man up"
"Always so bossy"
"I am not bossy, i just care about you. Anyway, it's already late, you should head back. Driving at night is not really good"
"Okay mom, i know. Take care okay, i don't want you to get sick while i'm not here....Also, don't go meeting other men too, dad might not be happy"
"Now you sound like my father rather than my son. And don't worry, you are the only man i need right now"
We hug each other and then i get inside the car. Looking at the rear-view mirror, i see Mom continue waving at us until we can't see her anymore. It is a peaceful drive home
. . . . . . . .
That night, i put Henry to bed
"Hey Dad" Henry says
"What is it Henry?"
"Are we gonna go back to Grandma again?"
"Of course Henry"
"Then can we go to that park again?"
Henry asks. I feel a slight pain in my chest. He doesn't know that tomorrow, the park will get destroyed. Maybe i should tell him the truth
"Sure Henry, i'll take you there again"
"Yay Dad, you're the best. I love you"
"Love you too Henry"
I kiss him goodnight and leave the room. Maybe it's best to just keep the secret from him. Memories are beautiful if they remain as memories. I walk out to the living to see Debra standing there
"I put him to sleep already, it was easy today because the little one had been playing all morning so he must be tired"
"Hey Tim, is something bothering you right now? You' look a little bit weird today."
"Nah it's nothing Deb, it's just it's been a long time since i saw Mom so i kinda acted weird like that"
"Really? You're not lying right? I mean i'm your wife so you can share everything with me"
"No Deb, i'm not lying. Anyway, playing with Henry this morning really makes me feel too tired now"
"Too tired? Well, i guess you don't have the energy left to play with me tonight"
That's Debra, my wife. She always knows how to deal with me
"I think I'm going inside the room then so you can rest" Debra says with a half-fake, half-real way
"Wait, wait for me Deb, i'm all good now so we can play...Hey Deb!....Deb!"
Forgetting all the sadness in me, i run after Debra. Maybe Mom is right, memories are beautiful if they simply stay as memories