Wednesday, July 12, 2006

So you Think you can Swim (shooby-dooby-dooby)

Okay, unless you watch a certain popular dance show you won’t get my title. So be it. It seemed to fit. There is an ongoing conversation happening between my Mother and me. It’s all about swimming. For some reason she doesn’t think I can swim. How does this come about? you might ask. Good question. When you figure it out, please tell me.

When we first opened up the pool, Mom said to me that she was surprised I was so excited, after all I didn’t really know how to swim now, did I? I don’t? I replied, funny, I thought I could; always have! Where did you learn to swim? she asked. Mom, don’t you remember? I took lessons as a kid. I remember going and passing my tests. In fact, I think I still have a card stuck in my baby book that certifies I passed a swimming course. Well, I can’t remember you taking lessons, she tells me, and furthermore I don’t remember a public pool anywhere around where you might have taken lessons. Where else did you swim?

Well, Mom, we went every year for a while to Florida on vacation. You know, that large body of water that exists right next to Clearwater Beach, the Gulf of Mexico? Yes, she says, but you can’t really swim in the ocean very well with the waves and all. Where else did you swim? Gee Mom, let me think…well, after we moved to Florida there were lots of opportunities besides the ocean. My friend Kathy had a pool and we went swimming in it. Hmm, okay, but where else did you swim? Memom and Poppy [what we called our grandparents] had a pool, I remind her. Yes, she says, but it was too small for any kind of real swimming.

You can see where this is going. Absolutely nowhere!

Your sister can’t swim, she adds as if this will seal with certainty the fact that I cannot either. Must be the family genes. My Mom can’t swim, my sister can’t swim, therefore I should not be able to swim either. [I distinctly remember my sister taking lessons with me. If she can’t swim it’s her own fault.] Finally she says she’s going to ask my Aunt Emma where there might have been a pool in Hyde Park for me to take lessons. Great Mom, you do that.

Next time we talk on the phone she tells me that Emma remembers a seminary she thinks had a pool. Seems an unlikely place to me to take swimming lessons, but okay, maybe. Little prepubescent kids couldn’t be too much of a distraction to would-be priests and ministers. [or could they??]  I don’t remember where I took lessons, just that I did. My Mother didn’t drive when I was small, so she can’t imagine how I arrived at my lessons either. I think I remember something about taking a bus. There’s nothing for it now except to at least prove I actually did take lessons. Have to find that baby book of mine!

Last time I saw my baby book it was in the closet upstairs in the office. Mom had brought it with her on one of her yearly visits out to see us in Colorado. That seemed a convenient place to put it. However, since then we’ve moved. I haven’t seen it in any of the boxes marked “office” yet. The search begins in the basement. You need to see our basement to truly appreciate the enormity of this task! Boxes piled here and there; boxes on top of more boxes. Not only is it a challenge to find those marked “office” but we had a rather annoying guy packing us up. He would put things in any open box where he thought an item might fit, never mind where it came from. So, you never know when you open a box what you might find. A real “mixed bag” or box, I should say.

After much searching and opening of boxes, I finally found a box that was not marked at all, and lo and behold, there was my baby book! As I thumbed through all the childhood drawings with ribbons attached from having won a placement in a school contest, report cards and group class photos from Grades 1-6, glowing letters from teachers that I’m certain they just copied the same words for every student in the class, I finally found what I was looking for. A small card, 3.75 x 2.50 inches, stating that indeed “LYNN MONROE [okay, they spelled my name wrong!] has received swimming instruction at EYMARD SEMINARY POOL” [hey, Aunt Emma was right!]. On the back of the card my many swimming achievements are ticked off and certified.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Finally, proof. I rushed to the phone to call Mom. Hey, Mom, guess what? I found my swimming instruction card! Emma was right, it was the seminary pool! Well, I’ll be, Mom declares. As for me, I am just glad that we can now put this particular conversation behind us.

Weeks have passed. Yesterday while chatting with Mom on the phone she asked what I had done that morning. I swam, I said, about 12 lengths or so of the pool. You can see what’s coming, can’t you? Surely it’s inevitable. I hear a pause on the other end and brace myself for what she’s going to say next.

Well, she says, I just can’t wait to come down there and see you swim for myself. I still don’t believe you can swim!

SIGH. Oh well, I tried. I truly did.


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