Sunday, June 17, 2012

Just under the board

2Pops & Granny Jane with their great-grands

 I was five years old.  He was 29.  I was standing at the end of the high dive looking down at my dad treading water just below me.  He was looking up at me smiling, encouraging.  “It’s okay, Sissy. Jump when you’re ready,” he said.

         Being up on that high dive was my idea.  My brother, who was three years older, had already jumped, and there was no way I was going to let him do something that spectacular without me trying it too.  Of course, Mom had already told me I couldn’t; but Dad said I was ready.  And there he was, young, strong, tanned, waiting... for me.

         I could just see his legs kicking underneath him.  His arms outstretched.  It hardly looked like it took any effort for him to keep afloat in what seemed like a bottomless pit of blue water.  Yet, he never drifted from under the diving board, arms waiting... eyes reassuring.

         I took a deep breath.  Squeezed my nose as hard as I could and stepped off the end of the board.  I felt his arms even before I hit the water.  He was there just like he promised. 

         Today, I’m 61.  He is 85.  Dad is deep into Alzheimer’s now, and while he can’t always remember my name, I hope somewhere in the back of his heart he can still see us that day at the pool. Me, on the diving board with my skinny, shivering legs, and wildly beating heart, and he just under the board. “It’s okay, Sissy.  Jump when you’re ready. I’m here.”  

And I always did.  And he always was.

Happy Father’s Day to all dads who are always there… waiting… just under the board.


Matthew Cleveland said...

Beautiful mom!

Matthew Cleveland said...

Beautiful mom!

josh cleveland said...

so good!

The LuLu Chronicles said...

Thanks, sons. So proud of the dads you've become. Your daughter will know that you too are waiting and watching just under the board...