I was wondering aloud what to blog today, and 5yo Rachael suggested The Pool. I don’t know why that story came to mind, and she doesn’t know either, except that all children love to hear stories from their parents’ childhoods.
I had intended to write down some childhood stories and even created a category for memories, so now, like my own children, you’ll know the story of the pool too.
We were very poor when I was a kid. We ate a lot of beans, and luxuries were few and far between. Our idea of luxury was having our own pillows – something that didn’t happen until I was a teen. Before that, we used pillows in shifts: the older ones waited until the younger ones fell asleep, then took their pillows. It worked for us.
When I was 8 or 9 and there were 5 of us, Mom somehow managed to save enough money to buy us kids a pool. I don’t know how she did it. It was just a kiddie pool, the kind that was $15.44 this summer at WalMart, but we couldn’t remember ever having had one before. We hadn’t even thought to hope for one. We were indescribably excited, and Mom was excited for us. This was going to be the best summer ever!
We bought the pool, and had to carry it home on the top of our vehicle. Mom drove as slowly as she could, but once we got on the divided highway she had to pick up the pace a little.
Then the unthinkable happened. The pool blew off the top of our vehicle. We knew the instant it happened, but there was nowhere to pull over. Mom did the best thing she could think of: she hit the gas, took the next exit and came back around.
As we crossed the overpass, we looked down and saw our pool by the side of the highway. There it was, just a few hundred feet away. But as we watched in horror a truck on the other side had pulled over right next to our pool.
They got out, no doubt delighted at their luck. Why would anyone throw away a perfectly good pool?
To the best of my memory, Mom pulled over and got out right there on the overpass.
“HEY!” Our shy, quiet mother yelled at the top of her lungs. She waved madly. “That’s my pool! THAT’S MINE!” They were oblivious. With 8 lanes of traffic thundering between us, we watched helplessly as they loaded our pool into the back of their truck and drove away.
There was no happy ending. We didn’t get a pool that summer. I don’t know how many years passed before we finally had a kiddie pool of some sort but I suspect that first one had been long forgotten by most of us.
I often wonder why the memory stayed with me. I forget so many things; why did I remember this? And why did Rachael think of it tonight?
I think it’s because my mom cared so much. She seemed more disappointed than we were. The pool itself couldn’t have meant a thing to her, but she desperately wanted it for our sake. Our gentle, softspoken mother was willing to stand there like a crazy lady on the overpass bellowing at strangers, so that we could splash around in a kiddie pool.
Our mom loved us and we knew it, even though we lost the pool. Maybe losing the pool gave us a clearer look at how much she loved us.