There is an indoor pool where I grew up that, as a 5 year old, was absolutely the best place to go on a weekend. I was a late bloomer when it comes to swimming and I wasn’t even close to a doggie paddle at 5. In fact, I was so bad that I couldn’t even float (even though, yes, I’ve been told many times that everybody can float. I think it’s a scientific fact. But believe me, I couldn’t.)
One weekend, my parents rounded us up and we headed on over to the pool. There was a slide at this pool that seemed like the most daring and adventurous undertaking, but much to my chagrin it was located at the deep end. At this point in my life, I believed that various forms of aquatic life could exist anywhere there was water and so I genuinely thought there could be sharks and alligators swimming around over there.
This particular day my two older sisters went down the slide! They came back and were raving about it. Well, I clearly had to go too. I asked my dad if he would catch me at the bottom (despite my sudden show of bravery, I still couldn’t swim after all). He agreed and I headed on over. I remember standing in the line, shivering and wondering how my dad would know when I would go down the slide. I quickly dismissed this thought with the knowledge that my dad was my dad after all and he would know somehow, because he always knows.
I slipped right down quickly and then went under fast. I was visualizing my shark death as I sunk and was hoping he would make it fast when a lifeguard snatched me out of the water. My dad was nearby and quickly came to get me. My dad had no idea I would be going down the slide right at that moment, but as a child, I had innocently assumed he would. He calmed me down eventually and then I asked him the question of family folklore, “Daddy, why didn’t you catch me?”
My dad claims this was one of the hardest things to hear as a dad and one of his saddest moments. Of course, it wasn’t his fault, but he has used that story in his life to illustrate what it means to be a father–to be there for your children. Today is my dad’s birthday and all I could think about was how I wanted to write about him on this blog.
I tell that story to illustrate what makes my dad the very best–that was the first, last, and only time my dad has failed to catch me. My dad has been there, always. He is still there, always. He is unfailing. He is a rock.
I have loved getting to see my dad be a grandpa. He is just as amazing in that role as he is as a father. I love him with all of my heart! Happy Birthday Dad!
*There is some disagreement about the story (as is often the case with family stories). My dad remembers that he took all three of us to the slide and was catching Elaina and Melissa when I went down really suddenly–the lifeguard grabbed me and then he was right next to her. I told it the way I remember it because it’s my blog. 🙂 PS. He is probably right.