My mother didn’t know how to swim. But she knew how to drive. And from the age of six, even on the harshest winter Saturday morning, she dropped me off at the Central Junior High School pool for swimming lessons. Under the domed roof, we learned to crawl – the crawl stroke. We learned to breathe, and to hold that breath. To trust our bodies. We learned the side stroke – pick an apple and put it in the basket. The breast stroke. The backstroke. We learned to dive. We learned to tread water. Three minutes in the deep end with our hands in the air. We swam 50 laps to pass the exam. We would be safe in any of the 10,000 lakes.
At noon my mother would pick me up. I exited the glass doors that surrounded the pool. Head steaming in the cold air, I wondered if my long blonde strands would freeze. They never did. My mother was never late to pick me up. Never. I never worried that she wouldn’t come.
Perhaps that is the sole reason I dared to go in the deep end. That I still do.
Teach me with honesty and I will know trust. Teach me with gentleness and I will know strength. Teach me with kindness and I will know love.