Tuesday. Thursday. Saturday. We leave at 8:30 in the morning so that The Ancient One can be at the pool when it opens at 9. But she makes herself wait that long. She’s usually ready an hour before.
She’s 92 and she still swims laps.
Breast stroke. Always the breast stroke. Only the ends of her hair at the back of her neck get wet…otherwise her head stays above water as she swims. It’s always been that way…as long as I can remember. Even as far back as the ocean in Hawaii. Always the same. Always graceful, active, sure, purposeful…alive. She’s so very much alive.
I sit on the bench and watch her, and keep count. Some days she does 4 laps, some days up to 8. It’s more work for her now than it used to be, but she’s amazing. And inspiring. I hear some of the others whisper, “And she’s in her 90’s!” I smile and nod and feel proud.
There are others in the pool. A whole little community of pool goers. I sit, and observe, and make mental notes as I characterize them. At first I smiled over them…for many reasons. Then I realized that they were the ones IN the pool…and I was only sitting on a bench. I’m not so patronizing now. I respect them. They are cool.
There is “The Manatee”. I wouldn’t recognize this man above water, but he’s unmistakable in the pool. Somehow when he’s there, he’s always already in the water before we get there, sticking close to the edge, his large, powerful frame moving back and forth through the water…rolling from side to side…slow, methodical, a bit clumsy, measured, constant. He turns his head high when he breathes. Over and over and over again.
Then there is the 82 year old lady who wears a mask and snorkel and fins and skims across the pool and back again, like a fish. Lap after lap – she doesn’t stop, doesn’t slow down. Swims and swims and swims. When she’s done, she visits…bubbly and smiling in spite of her fibromyalgia and other health issues that keep her away from the pool for months at a time. I like her. I’d like to know her better.
“Okie” comes almost every day we are there. He’s a good swimmer, and a flirt. Flirts with everyone there, really…or quotes “In the last days, perilous times will come. Wars and rumors of wars…” whenever anyone brings up the weather or politics. He’s a social guy, and does better when someone is there to pace him and keep him motivated.
“The Greeter” is almost always there. She’s friendly…and talkative. Doesn’t swim…just bounces..up and down, up and down…working her arms and legs through different exercise routines as she bounces and talks. Always talking. Always bouncing. She’s the one who checks up on the others if they miss more than a few days in a row, and then comes and shares what she learns. “T- is in the hospital again. She’s been there for four days and they’re saying maybe another week. Poor thing. Bless her heart. I’m going to visit her.” Caring. Loving. Opinionated. Talking. Bouncing.
Occasionally a younger woman…late 40’s/early 50’s comes in. She’s training for a triathlon, and her slim, tan body in her racer suit is starkly contrasted with the others around her. She’s serious about her training, and swims beautifully…and hard. But her smile is also beautiful. And she’s made my grandmother her role model. Go Grandma!!!
There are others who come…but not as regularly. The gal with the tattoos all over her body, the homeschooling mother, the man who had heart surgery and showed off his huge scar the day he came back to the pool after being gone so long. Everyone let him know how much they missed him, and how glad they were to have him back.
Such an interesting world we live in. Such an interesting slice of that world at the pool. And in the middle of it all…my grandmother. She’s 92 you know! And still swimming laps.
|❤ Picture by Mom ❤|