a childhood story: The Pool

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.

The Pool

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.


  1. Thanks for sharing that childhood memory! I loved it! I really felt for your Mom — she must have been crushed to lose that pool after she scrimped and saved to buy it for you and your siblings. It was a sweet story! I enjoyed reading it and thinking about all we take for granted.

  2. What a particularly bittersweet story! As a mother now, I would have been just crestfallen had something like that happened to us……I think that’s one of the reasons why the story has stayed with you all of these years. You realized, in one moment, how much your mom loved you, and it was displayed in her willingness to do anything to get that pool back for you guys. What a warm and very wonderful feeling, down in the depths of you tummy, to have the knowledge that you guys grew up well and had folks that loved you so much!!

    My kids think they’re living large when they get to have chocolate chips! Even though we’re pretty poor right now, for a family of our size, my kids don’t think we’re poor at all! My oldest daughter often wonders why they’re so spoiled!

    A simple life. It’s the best life!

  3. What a wonderful story! And what a tribute to your mom!

  4. This is like two stories in one… the pillow-shift story and the pool story. Have to admit the pool story made me kind of teary eyed.

    My mom tells the story of when she was a kid, she had five other siblings, of which the youngest two were twins. Every now and again, they would get chocolate bars. My mom somehow worked it that she made the twins believe they needed to share half of their chocolate bars with her, thereby getting yet another whole chocolate bar.

    It kind of makes me smile because… well, it was chocolate after all. 🙂

  5. Hi – from the UK! I love your blog – it is a delight and an inspiration. I have taken the liberty to reprint this in our church newsletter (with a link to you site), and I will be linking to you on our church website. I am the local preaching elder in a small church in the Welsh Valleys.

    I hope that is o.k. – if it isn’t let me know and I’ll pull it.

    Personally I think there is a market out there for your writing – it is a kind of Christian gentle realism – much harder to do than it looks.

    Kindest regards in His Service

  6. We live in such a wealthy nation and time, don’t we? I also have memories of being without…raising my first two children alone until I met my husband. Unsaved and alone. Christmas with nothing. Empty cupboards.
    Yet the creative things we found to do vs. the stuff, and the generosity of the people that God sent into our world stand out as high points, not low.
    Lord, show us who is hurting, and going without. Open our eyes and open our hands to reach out generously. Use us to do good works for your glory.

  7. How precious! You’ll never regret posting this story.
    Like Holly C said “More please!!!!” 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m sure that now, as a mom, you can understand how your own mother was so upset for you and your siblings. I just wonder, did you really have a good perception of how poor you were? We were quite poor when I was young. We never had a kiddie pool and the only reason we had a swing was because my great-grandmother had to get rid of hers when she moved. The only reason we ate as well as we did was because daddy hunted and fished. I love hearing my mom tell about how inventive she had to be to in order to have something for us under the tree on Christmas. I kept the made over doll I got once until I was in my teens (it got lost in a move) and our blocks had much cooler shapes than other kids’ because daddy had made them from scrap wood. Until I went to junior high school in a more upscale (but by no means rich) area, I didn’t know how poor we were. Sometimes ignorance IS bliss.

  9. I love family history and these are the stories that bring the past alive. The human, feeling elements that help us KNOW your mother. Thanks for sharing and for preserving this memory for your posterity!

  10. Loved your story. More, please!!!???

  11. What a sweet story! It’s a good reminder that the things that matter most are not the tangible ones. You had love and that trumps a kiddie pool any day.

  12. Aww, poor kids. Makes me so glad to be so blessed.

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