Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Therapeutic Thwimming

Okay, it was scary.

But it turned out all right . . .
Our family have always been swimmers.
Our children are introduced to the water soon after they arrive.
And spend copious amounts of time there.
When we take a holiday, our choice of hotel is always based on whether or not it has a pool.
On to my story . . .
We were in Great Falls with my Husby's eldest brother and his family.
We had a favourite hotel there.
With *gasp* two pools.
The main pool was popular.
And usually busy.
We had decided to gather beside the smaller pool.
Adults, visiting.
Kids, playing.
Because we grown-ups hadn't planned on swimming, my Husby put on his suit under protest.
But I insisted.
At least one adult needed to be prepared.
We went down.
And spent a pleasant half-hour talking and laughing.
Now I should explain, here, that this smaller pool had one major draw-back.
It really wasn't made with children in mind.
It was roughly circular in shape.
And was shallow at the outer edges.
And deep in the middle.
I know. Weird.
Moving on . . .
Our oldest boy, aged four, was playing happily with his cousins in the shallows.
The kids were shouting and giggling and generally making 'happy' sounds and our oldest nephew, aged six, was keeping up a continuous dialogue of, “Mom! Dad! Look at this!”
His parents had tuned him out.
Something I simply couldn't do.
And for which I am eternally grateful.
“Mom!” he shouted.
I turned and looked at him.
“Mark's down there!” he said, pointing toward the centre of the pool.
My Husby looked at me.
“Get him!” I shouted.
He jumped in and an instant later, came up with our little boy.
For a few seconds, Mark coughed and gasped.
Then cried.
And just like that, our swim was over for the day.
We left the next morning, everyone well and happy, and completely unaware of the psychological damage that had been done.
A few days later, we took our family down to the river to our favourite swimming hole.
Though the water came no higher than his ankles, Mark refused to put one foot into the river.
Odd.
Later, we went to the local swimming pool for what had always been our favourite Saturday evening activity.
Mark, our fish, clung to the ladder and screamed.
Okay, something was definitely wrong.
For the next few months, every time we tried to go swimming, it was the same.
People splashing around.
Mark sitting as far from the water as he could get.
Hmmmm.
A year passed.
Without much change.
Then our family moved to Edmonton.
Within hours of getting settled, my Husby discovered the local rec centre.
And their 'wave pool'.
Sounded intriguing.
What on earth was a wave pool?
We packed up the kids and went to investigate.
It turned out that a wave pool was just that.
A pool.
With waves.
For fifteen minutes, the water was calm.
Smooth.
Then a horn would blow and the waves would start.
Small, at first, then growing in size until they were . . . significant.
Mark had been paddling in the ankle-deep water at the shallow end.
A big step for him.
The horn sounded.
He looked up.
And stared at the wall of water coming toward him.
Okay, it wasn't a wall.
Maybe more of a . . . fence?
Well, maybe a median.
But it was definitely coming toward him.
We watched as he considered his options.
Then, to our surprise, he dropped to his knees and . . . let the wave roll over him.
And just like that, his fear was gone.
Our fish was back.

There is a codicil:
Mark is married now, and the father of four.
Several times a week, he takes his family swimming.
It is their favourite activity.
Every time they appear with wet hair and faces glowing with exercise and happiness, I give thanks for the disaster that wasn't.
And for the therapeutic properties of waves.

Aaahh! Therapy!

23 comments:

  1. Mark is an inspiration. Just saying. an inspiration. I can't swim.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank goodness you insisted the hubs wear his suit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think of that every time I see Mark and his family swimming...

      Delete
  3. I'm so glad that Mark found a way to conquer his own fears in his own time. Sounds like it worked out for the best in the long run.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Took time. And some gentle waves . . .

      Delete
  4. I totally understand Mark's initial fear--after I shattered my ankle a few years back, it took me ages to walk down a flight of stairs without my heart in my throat. Glad he's over his water phobia!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes! How horrifying for you! And we wonder where our fears come from...

      Delete
  5. I can so identify with four-year-old Mark. Thank goodness for gentle waves, and their attraction so irresistible that he could overcome his fear and enjoy them. Some serendipities stick with parents forever, don't they?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh Diane, I so need a wave pool! Something tells me it would effectively dispel, not just the fear of drowning, but also the fear of the unknown, the abstract, and things that go boom in the night! I don't know about you, but the older I get, the more I become fearful of that which I cannot control. Hmm...perhaps my non-practicing psychologist sister is right in calling me a control freak! Nevertheless, good for Mark! His courage allowed him to divide and conquer and now enjoy the benefits of swimming! Hugs! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. Therapeutic waves. Maybe we should have them in psychologist's offices! :)

      Delete
  7. Oh.my. Thank goodness for watchful mother's eyes and quick father's reflexes! Our kids do seem to know what's right, in their own time. By the way, I've been in one of those wave pools and they are so much fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love hanging in the deep end in the waves. So. Much. Fun! And you don't realize you're actually exercising!

      Delete
  8. A good example of how a near-drowning can occur - and a good reminder to listen to the running commentary of our children! Thank goodness this ended as it did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I often wonder what it was in his voice that made me turn so quickly. I don't remember it sounding any different. And it was exactly what he had been shouting for the entire time we were in the pool!

      Delete
  9. I'm so glad Mark was able to overcome his fear. it's awful to be afraid of water. My sister was born with a water phobia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel for your sister! Maybe send her here and we'll try her in the waves . . .

      Delete
  10. That was a very scary story with a wonderful ending. I can't imagine having a child almost drowned. It is amazing some of the phobia's we get in life and he had a big one. Luckily he did let it cripple him for long.
    Blessings for this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He amazes me in so many ways and I'll forever be grateful!

      Delete
  11. I'm all about conquering fears this year. I hope I will be half as brave as Mark was in overcoming his fear of the water. I am a huge swimmer as well and it would break my heart to suddenly have that fear! Good for him!

    ReplyDelete
  12. How brilliant of Mark to think of that! What a blessing! I am so glad he is around to share swimming with his own family.
    Love,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree with Carol above. I admire Mark for conquering his fear and the bad memory. I can't / don't swim either and have too many issues with water. I'm just glad my husband is my husband and he's always willing to go with our son in the water. ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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