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.