My brother, Tom, and I celebrated Father’s Day today in the one way we’re sure our dad would have loved. Swimming. One of Dad’s favorite things to do. We took Tom’s daughter, Kendra, to the local pool, and chased each other around for awhile. We were going to teach her to play underwater tea party, just as Dad did with us, but we ran out of time and energy. I wonder why Dad never seemed to wear out of energy with us. Maybe he was younger.
Dad loved to swim and made sure we all learned to swim well. He was a college professor, so often went with us to the pool/quarry when we were younger.
He was one of the few dads who spent time at the pool back then. The other dads must have been working, although a bunch of my friends’ dads taught at the college so had summers off, too. Maybe they didn’t like to swim.
Dad would spend hours playing games with us, laying flat on the bottom of the pool so long, we were sure he couldn’t be breathing. We’d go down and tug and tug at him until he’d finally submerge, spewing water through the gap in his front teeth. We were so envious — he had his own built-in squirtgun.
One day, I was messing around on the ladder, trying to figure out if I could fit my big toe into one of the holes on the rung. Of course. It fit in perfectly. I just couldn’t get it out. There I was, hanging on for dear life, trying to figure out how to gracefully pull out my toe before Dad came over. I didn’t. He did.
He must have had infinite patience. As a scientist, he understood the reasoning behind my experiments. If I insert toe, what will happen? The old if…then. Rather than pointing out the stupidity of my experiment, he tried a few things before calling over Steve Sudermeister, the head guard. Apparently, they found a solution, because my 10 toes are intact.
Later…when I was in high school, spending my days at the quarry (the pool was only for those who couldn’t swim)…I remember him showing up late afternoon in that faded blue suit and terry cloth cover-up. He’d dive off the low board and slowly, but steadily swim out to the ropes. Then he’d do laps, back and forth along the ropes, grinning at me when I waved.
Dad, today Tom and I swam laps for you during rest break. Slow and steady. Just like you taught us.