Elise Swindle never thought she would get the opportunity to operate a piece of heavy machinery.
With her 99th birthday approaching in August, she believed the opportunity to do something of this nature had almost passed her by.
On May 17, however, her dream came true.
Elmcroft of Grayson Valley Senior Living Community, where Swindle lives, teamed up with the city of Clay to accomplish this. Through the center’s program called “Second Wind Dreams,” Swindle was given the opportunity to operate a Caterpillar track loader truck at the old Alabama Living Center on Sweeney Hollow Road.
“It can be the smallest dream up to the largest dream,” said Elmcroft Executive Director Stacey Swinney. “She didn’t know we were setting it up but at 98, she knew in her mind that at 99 she would be unable to do anything. She feels that at 99, that’s the limit. She’s about to turn 99 and being 98, her dream was to go operate a big piece of machinery. She said it was power. She wanted to have that power.”
When Clay City Councilwoman Becky Johnson discovered from a friend who works at Elmcroft that this was Swindle’s dream, she called Mayor Ed McGuffie and arranged for her to operate the equipment
“It was such a surprise to see those two huge machines,” Swindle said. “There were two machines out there, but I didn’t get in but one. I climbed up and we used a ladder to get up to the top of them. I had always thought I’d like to operate a machine like that.”
Swindle said she had never really thought about operating the machinery before, but when asked what her “Second Wind Dream” was, she thought it sounded like a good idea.
“Frankly, I was just thinking up something,” she said. “I never would have mentioned it if I had thought they would have followed through on it. I was just trying to think of something different. We were trying to think of things we could do a long time ago.”
Although she said she would not want to do it again, Swindle said she felt a sense of accomplishment after operating the machine.
“It was fun,” she said. “This man who was helping us (City of Clay employee Frank Garner), he was very knowledgeable. We did so many things that morning. We met the mayor over there and we just did a little bit of everything.”
Swindle said she can’t think of any other dreams she would like to fulfill.
“I think that did very well,” she said. “I sure do thank them.”
McGuffie attended the “Second Wind Dream” come true along with Garner and Johnson. Several members of the Elmcroft staff also assisted Swindle, including Swinney, Marketing Director Debbie Armstrong and Resident Assistant Debra Pendleton.
“I think everybody was real excited,” McGuffie said. “She got to lift the bucket and tilt it and do all the things that she always wanted to. That was an exciting time and I’m just tickled to death that I could be a part of it.”