Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dads and daughters and swimming pools

It's already that time of year again!  CANNOT believe it!  Not only is it Easter-tide..hallelujah...but it's time for the neighborhood pool to re-open!  WOO HOO (another way to shout hallelujah)!!  I know I know...there's a lot of me to cram into spandex, but I do it, and don't even care who's looking.  Husband and I love love love water and will find any opportunity to plunge in...swearing each season that NEXT year we'll look better in our swimsuits.  We won't.  We are like children when it comes to excitement about pools and beaches.  And I love living in a city that takes such great care of its neighborhood pools, and opens them in APRIL.

This week we had our neighborhood pool almost to ourselves...apart from the young and very svelte lifeguards (seriously, it's a good thing husband and I can swim cause those little guys are NOT going to be able to drag us out of the water), but apart from them and one other pair of joyful swimmers we were the only folks at the pool. The other pair, took my breath away and made me tear up and made me call home.

A little girl, maybe about 6, adorable in her bright patterned swimsuit, chubby...but not in that way that makes you think..."O no!  We've got to do something about obesity in America"...just chubby in that wonderful 6 year old way was splashing in the pool with her dad.  They were playing hard and laughing.  She was riding him all over the pool, shouting "faster horsey faster", and he was laughing hard too.  Answering her ENDLESS questions about dogs and ponies and panthers (panthers?  sure), and obviously the two of them adore each other.  She, just at that right age to think her dad is pure magic.  He, most likely, wanting to freeze this moment, aware, I would guess, that time passes so so fast.  I could imagine him thinking something like "wasn't it just yesterday that this child was an infant?"

Of course I have no way of knowing any of this...just speculation on my part.  Although I'm pretty intuitive and was close enough to them in the pool to see how they looked at each other.  And my eyes filled with tears.

I have zero memories of ever going swimming with my dad.  Not to sound all whiny and like I clearly need to go to therapy (again)...I'm just saying, I spent a few moments searching my memory bank for times when my dad and I ever did anything with just the two of us when I was that young.  And I came up empty. And it made me sad.  I wanted to grab that little girl and her dad and clutch them tightly and say TREASURE THIS...but somehow I think they already are.

On the other hand....I do have memories of when I got older and my dad and I discussed some great books and the importance of reading and the time my dad taught me how to fill out a check.  (A check kids is a piece of paper that works like money...err..your debit card...ha) And despite the many ways my dad failed as a father and husband, I do know that he loves me.  And despite the fact that he's 88 and in really poor health, he's still alive, so I went home from the pool and called him.

And somehow I wonder if all of that can't be bundled up into the waters of baptism?  By the waters of baptism we are sealed and marked as Christ's own forever...but it doesn't mean that we are immune from hard things, or magically protected from any sadness or illness.  It does mean that we are Loved beyond measure, and given a new start, and given the gift of the Spirit. I think it's the power of the Holy Spirit (and some really good therapy...those things ain't mutally exclusive!) that helps me have eyes to see my dad for what he is: flawed, disappointing, and also a child of God who does in fact love me.

For all you dads and daughters out there, hang in there with each other.  Moms and sons too! Make room for the Spirit, and no matter what you look like, wrangle yourself into a swimsuit once in a while and remind yourself of the healing power of Water.