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Ronda Rich: Giving up my swang
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About halfway through my morning run just about the time droplets of ‘dew’ were running down my face and I wasn’t looking none too good for the wearing, a red Ford Ranger pickup truck pulled up beside me and stopped. A man, gray in hair and weathered in face, rolled down his window.

“Boy, I tell ya. I love that swang,” he said.

It took a second for his words to register. Then I got it, grinned and walked over to the truck.

“I’m so glad,” I said.

“Now, I mean it,” he said. “I ain’t never been prouder of nothin’.”

His brother, One Arm, who is my friend and neighbor, was in the passenger seat.

He leaned over and said, “That’s the truth. He loves that thang.”

One Arm, so nicknamed because he has only one arm, lives up the road a piece from us. When he’s in the yard as I run by, I’ll stop for a bit of conversation. We talk about the weather, horses and trees that live or die. Once, he proudly told me about his daughter being saved and what a blessing that was.

About a year back, One Arm called me to talk about a couple of things.

“First off, thanky for that piece you wrote about me,” he said. “I got it pinned up on my far (fire) board. It done my heart a world of good to know that somebody cares about an ol’ one-armed man like me.”

He was doing good for my heart, so we chatted.

Then he said, “Let me ask you sumptin. That swang you got down at your mama’s house. My brother shore would like to buy that. Would you be of a mind to sell it?”

It was a comfortable swing with a canopy that I put under a huge maple. I loved it and whenever I was down at Mama’s, I enjoyed a swing and some sitting time. It always reminded me of when Mama and I used to sit on the porch — me on the steps and she in the glider — and watch occasional cars go by on weather mild evenings.

“No, One Arm, I don’t think so,” I said.

I explained why. He understood.

“Well, if you ever change yur mind, give me a holler,” he said.

His brother lives past One Arm’s house, so he’s a neighbor, too. You know how it is in the country. Anyone within a 3-mile radius is a neighbor.

I hung up the phone and went into the kitchen to make dinner, but I kept thinking about that call. I’m kindly of the mind that if someone admires something of nominal value I have, if it’s something that I can part with then I should share it with them.

Sometimes it’s hard to do, like the pearl bracelet I bought in an outdoor market in Paris. I have a tiny wrist and it fit perfectly. I bought one for me and one for a gift. My niece, Nicole, who was with me, bought a couple for gifts.

One day at Sunday dinner, I had it on.

“I love that bracelet,” she said. “I wish I had bought me one.”

I hesitated. I loved it, but I pulled it off and said, “You can have this one.”

It thrilled her.

Three years later, I found an even prettier one that fits my wrist at the Cloister at Sea Island and Tink bought it. I like it much better, because it has a sparkling sand dollar in the midst of the multi-strands.

I called One Arm back.

“Your brother can have the swing,” I said. “Tell him it’s a gift and I hope he enjoys it.”

I haven’t been able to find one to replace it yet. But in time, I’ll find one. It took years with the bracelet.  Meanwhile, our neighbor is enjoying it bunches.

And that is a happy feeling for me.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “What Southern Women Know.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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