the water is your friend

As the panic overwhelmed me when I saw the water above my head, I could hear Pretty yelling Stand up! Stand up!

My legs refused to cooperate…I tried to stand, but my wet feet kept sliding on the vinyl lining of our swimming pool. I was holding on for dear life to one of the two buoyant noodles I used for my daily exercises, but for some reason that wasn’t helping. I would try to put one foot down, the foot would go out from under me and I would go under again. Panicky. Panicky…I was drowning….in four feet of water…I was drowning.

I can’t stand up – HELP!

Pretty jumped in with all her clothes on and pulled me out of the water.

I could barely breathe. The panic and fear wouldn’t let go of me even when I stood safely on the top step of the four steps leading into the pool. Pretty stayed in the water with all her clothes on and began to walk back and forth in the four feet depth of the shallow end of the pool she had just pulled me out of. She was clearly undone.

After a few minutes, she said, I probably should have let you get out by yourself so you would know you could make it alone.

I shook my head. If you hadn’t pulled me out when you did, I would have drowned, I replied. I stood shaking on the step for a long time before I slowly pulled myself out of the pool.

All summer long I got into the shallow end of our beautiful swimming pool to spend 30 minutes of exercise in the water because my orthopedic doctor remarked offhandedly during an appointment last spring that the water was my friend, and if there was any possibility of exercising in water, that would be a brilliant idea.

I had resisted the suggestion because of my lifelong fear of water – like as in major phobia fear of water. I loved to look at water but rarely got in it. However, this summer  I discovered the water allowed me to walk without pain and that made a “water believer” out of me. Every day I overcame my fears to get in the pool and do my exercises. Most of the time someone came to the house to swim so I had plenty of company during the warm summer days.

Gradually I even began to look forward to the 30 minutes of water activities. And also gradually after Labor Day, most of our friends quit coming to the pool; Pretty was busy with her antique empire, and I kept up my pool exercises by myself. Even Charly and Spike were bored with my walking back and forth routines, opting to stay indoors while I spent time with my new best friend, water.

October has been warmer than it’s supposed to be which gave me encouragement to continue my water exercises. Cooler nights chilled our unheated pool but sunshine could make the water bearable for me in the late afternoons. Pretty who loved the pool during the summer months occasionally got in with me but most of the time preferrred to chat  from the vantage point of a bench near the edge of the water whenever she came home during my pool time. Most of the time I was already out by the time she arrived.

But for some reason known only to the gods of shallow water, Pretty came home early last Friday afternoon as I was wrapping up my routine. We were chatting when I lost my balance in the pool and went under. She was in exactly the right spot at the right time  to save me from myself and from my friend, water, which at that moment had become my foe.

I vowed to never get back in the pool again; that promise didn’t last two days. The cold water may keep me out when the sun doesn’t warm it to suit me, but fear won’t. If Katherine Hepburn could swim in the Atlantic Ocean every day of her life until she died, surely I could spend 30 minutes in a swimming pool in my back yard.

As long as my personal Super Hero Pretty is within shouting distance.

Stay tuned.





About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to the water is your friend

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    Really scary, Sheila. I’m glad you’re not giving in to fear, but maybe a vest might help you feel more confident? Kayaker’s vests give you a lot of mobility. Stay safe. Love you too much!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Millie Miller says:

    Yep I can see it in my Minds Eye.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re a superhero yourself! Brava!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nan R. Smith says:

    Holy cow, Sheila! So glad you are ok and your earthly angel, Pretty, was there for you!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Susanne says:

    I think wayside artist’s idea rocks! Don’t give up sheila but be safe.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Luanne says:

    Oh wow! Maybe a floatie or three in the water near you?!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! Not good. If you needed reminding that Pretty is pretty amazing, then you got it. Very pleased you got right back on that horse though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. M.B. Henry says:

    I understand. I can be in the water – but you won’t catch me putting my head under! Glad your hero was there to help you out!

    Liked by 1 person

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