Sunday, June 16, 2013

When my Dad Saved my Life

When my dad saved my life I did not thank him. I did not stop to acknowledge that he had jumped into the pool, fully clothed, to rescue me from certain death.

I say "certain" because I had slipped under a huge black inner tube and was pinned underwater by my swimsuit snagged on the air valve.

I was a little kid, and the tube was oversize.  Hidden from view, I flailed around underwater, unable to free myself, and unable to figure out why I couldn't escape.

His dad radar must have activated. He could scan the pool and see that I was missing.  Was my little foot splashing around?  Did he see a hand?  Maybe it was just the shadow of me not surfacing that caught his attention.

He dived in and tore my suit off and away from the valve.

When I got out, all I can remember is how sad I felt that my Strawberry Shortcake swimsuit had a large tear across my belly. I did not thank him. I did not acknowledge the fear and adrenaline he must have felt to realize his little daughter had been submerged for who knows how long. I just mourned my suit and the fact that swimming was over for the day.

 I didn't get a new suit that summer.  Instead, my mom stitched it up--an unforgiving fabric for repairs.  It was a pink scar that I was both ashamed and proud of.

That scar reminded me that there was someone who had my back.  Push come to shove, my dad would do anything in his power to keep me safe, suffer any indignity, and take any measures.  The scar reminded me that there was someone else who would not allow me to let self-pity to take over.  "It's a perfectly good suit. Don't be so worried about what others think," my mom would say when I whined about how embarrassing it was to have a sewn-up suit.

Thirty years later, we have all played musical chairs with our roles. At the moment it is my dad who flails. It is our family who dives, and it is still my mom who reminds us all not to feel self-pity for any of the ways that life gets torn apart in ways that don't seem pretty.

At the end of the day, I won't need any thanks, either.  He's already saved my life once.  I think I kinda owe him.

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