The city pool closes today. Summer swimming in our pool is ending. I lay prone on a lounge chair, my first and last day at the pool this year. It’s a Sunday afternoon and my eyes are closed to the partly cloudy sky, the pale sunshine. My book lays unopened. Pool sounds take me back to all the beach days and pool days of my life. I was a “water baby”, loved to swim. Learned young and lived near water for many years of my childhood and adolescence. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Clearwater Lake, Minnesota, Lake Michigan, Evanston IL, a pool in California and beach parties from Santa Monica to Newport Beach. I body surfed in the ocean before surf boards were popular giving in to powerful waves tossing me on shore like driftwood. We water skied on the Pacific without life preservers because it wasn’t “cool” back then. We stayed in the water for hours, skin shriveled, blue-tinged, diving off rafts, cannonballing off piers, swimming off boats.
We played tag around our pool in California. The pool was octagon shaped and around every corner we had to jump all the way in and all the way out, no fair passing a corner without that maneuver. No wonder we were lithe and fit! I practiced swan dives and jack knives and teetered on the edge of the diving board trying to get up enough nerve to a back dive. After the flat-backed stinger, I sustained just once it never happened.
Today at the pool I am conscious of the endings I have experienced in my life. I hear the thump, thump of the diving board, the slap of a belly-flop and the laughter and screams of bystanders. I hear kids calling “Watch this…” and parents saying, “Yes, I see you!” “Next time keep your legs together.”
I remember how my mother swam the side stroke and my dad had a strong crawl. I remember the sleepy, end of the day beach-y feeling I had as a child and then as a mother myself with little girls and a little boy, all sandy and sun kissed and wrapped up in towels. I remember being a grandmother to eleven little people who loved the water and the beach and sand castles as much as I did.
Laying on my lounge chair on the last pool day of summer, remembering, I feel the bittersweet nature of this life. Of little people grown up, children and grandchildren in seasons of their own. Of life passing inexorably toward Heaven. And as I acknowledge the bitter, the tears, I pray for the grace to taste the sweet as well. Waiting for the time as Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) said: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”