Waves of Emotion

Almost ten years ago, Ken’s aunt and uncle made us a deal we couldn’t refuse.  Fifteen years earlier, they bought an above-ground swimming pool from a store that was going out of business.  They had every intention of putting it up in their yard for their two little girls.  Well, one thing led to another, life went on, and the pool sat unopened in their garage. Their girls had grown up, gone to college, and moved out, and the pool was of no use to them any longer.  The pool was ours if we were just willing to drive the two hours to pick it up and then figure out how to put it together.  It DSCN4727had no pump or filter and no ladder, but it was spring, so those things were readily available.  Ken went the very next day to pick up the pool, and I scoured Craig’s list for the missing pieces.  By the time Ken got home, I had secured a filter and pump, and a few weeks later, Ken’s sister had located a ladder.  

Ken spent every evening after work for the next month digging out and leveling our yard, piecing together the outer wall of the pool, and trying to stretch the liner that, after 15 years in a garage, had shrunk from its original size.  When the five of us finally pulled the liner into place and stood back and marveled at the giant (and I do mean giant) pool that we had constructed ourselves, it felt as it we were witnessing a miracle.  And oh what a blessing that pool was.DSCN4878

When I was growing up, there was just one thing I always wanted and begged for (except for my 4th grade horse phase).  That one thing was a pool.  Unfortunately, we never lived in a house that had the right yard for a pool.  You can imagine my elation when we had our own pool in our backyard for the girls, Ken, and myself to enjoy.  That first summer, we were in the water every single night.  

DSC02117We had one party after another, inviting friends and family to come over and enjoy our pool.  I can still close my eyes and hear the squeals of delight from the girls as we swam and splashed and played.  It was Heaven right in our own backyard.  Morgan, our swim team champion, was in the water literally from sunup until bedtime.  It’s a miracle she had any skin or hair DSC01878left by the end of the summer.  After a couple if years, we were able to build a deck, and I spent many hours that summer reading books on the deck while the girls swam.  

Alas, as happens in life, the girls grew older, and we all grew busier.  Morgan began spending so much time in the swim team pool, practicing and competing, that she no longer had the desire to swim at home.  If she had friends over, they swam, but otherwise, she seemed to forget that the pool was even there.  Katie and Rebecca had summer jobs that kept them away from the house for long hours, and they lost their love of being in the pool.  Ken started traveling a lot more, and to keep our family together as much as possible, we tried to travel with him whenever we could.  Even I, the girl who longed for a pool, found myself closed up in the house sitting in front of my computer.  Entire summers went by without me even putting on a bathing suit.

Last summer, I got very sick at the tail end of our family vacation.  When we got home, my doctor told me that the best thing for me to do was to spend 10-30 minutes a day in the pool.  That last week of summer was the most relaxing and rejuvenating week of my entire year.  I had forgotten how much I love to swim!  I love the feel of the water, the rhythmic pulse of a string of laps back and forth across the pool, the sun’s hot rays slicing through the cool water and creating a soothing bathtub sensation on my body.  I spent this past winter and the long, cold, wet spring looking out my kitchen window with a smile  This was the summer I was going to swim every day.

A few days ago, Ken pulled the cover off of the pool.  He climbed into the green, murky, stale water, and began cleaning it out.  He noticed a few cracks in the liner, some that looked rather bad, and realized it needed to be replaced.  He found this no easy task as the pool was now around twenty-five years old.  Settling on patching it up, he figured he could get another summer out of the liner while searching for a replacement.  He then retrieved the filter and pump from the shed, cleaned them, hooked them up, and then took them off and carried them into the garage.  The pool was filling, and as Ken worked on something with the pump, I anxiously watched and waited.  Would it be ready by Memorial Day?  It seemed to be taking so much longer this year for Ken to get it all put together.  How much longer would I have to wait?

At dinner last night, Ken announced that we had to make a decision as a family.  “I can’t fix the pump,” he told us.  The pool was too old, the parts no longer available.  A new system would cost upwards of $1000, and he didn’t want to even say how much the eventual liner would cost.  “I spend $2000 a year and countless hours on the pool, and nobody uses it any more.”  

No!  Wait!  What was this leading to?  Were my ears deceiving me?  I was going to use it!  I needed to use it!  We had to have a pool!

“We could build a huge gazebo in that area,” Rebecca excitedly said.

“Or a Michael Phelps practice lane,” Morgan enthusiastically chimed in.

“Or just use the money for our vacation,” Katie suggested.

I was silent.  Did they not see?  Did they not care?  This was my pool!  Our pool!  Where we spent so many good times years ago.  Years ago.  The thought echoed in my mind.  Where did the years go?  Why hadn’t I seized every opportunity to spend time in the pool with my family when we had the chance?  Why had we let other things get in the way?  Why had I spent my entire summer indoors instead of enjoying the one thing I had always wanted so much?DSC09617

I cried last night while Ken held me and apologized.  I know.  It’s a pool.  I get it.  There are far worse things in the world to cry about than the dismantling of a pool.  But it was more than just a pool.  It was my childhood wish, my family’s nirvana for a few short years, a project that we put so much work, joy, and love into.  

The next few days won’t be very much fun for me as I watch the pool come down little by little.  Our backyard will never be the same.  You see, even if we didn’t use the pool as much in the past few years as we could have, the possibility was always there.  But I guess my memories will always be there, too.  In my mind, the pool will always be used by three excited little girls, their laughing father, and their overjoyed mother.  It’s not possible to turn back the hands of time and redo all of those lost hours, but we can make sure we don’t repeat that mistake.  We may not have a pool this summer, but we have each other.  And really, that’s all we need.DSC09619

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

   Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

   Tomorrow will be dying.

Robert Herrick, 1591 – 1674

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is now available for pre-order.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books:

Crabbing With Granddad (2013)

A Place to Call Home (2014)

Picture Me (2015)

Receive Amy’s Newsletter for News about Books and Events

Prescription for Happiness

IMG_1159I have to admit that over the summer, I had many, many moments of envy.  Not all-consuming jealousy or want-to-tear-their-eyes-out rage.  Not even the kind of envy that lingers.  Each instance lasted for just a few seconds, but it was there nonetheless.  These moments came each time I took a few minutes to pause and steal a quick look at Facebook.  No, it wasn’t the traveling, or the shopping, or the amazing photos.  It was even more basic than that – I was envious every time someone posted a picture of themselves by the pool.  Yes, I said the pool.  People had time to lay by the pool.  Some even had time to get IN the pool!  How could they do that?  How did they find the time between laundry, housecleaning, work, driving children around, etc. to even sneak into their room and put on a bathing suit, not to mention make themselves that delicious looking cocktail, and lounge by the pool?  Some of them even had books on their laps or on the table beside them.  That was serious pool time!

Here’s the thing – we’ve had our pool for several years, but for the past two summers, I haven’t even gotten my toes wet.  Every day I look longingly out the window and think, Today I will find the time to get into the pool.  By bedtime, the pool is the farthest thing from my mind.  At least it was, until a few weeks ago.  Remember that fabulous vacation I wrote about?  The one to Canada that was such an awesome family adventure?  Did I happen to mention how it ended?  Nope, I spared you the details of the last few days when I walked around with a fever and a general feeling of something getting a hold of me.  On the fourth day of my fever, while in Niagara Falls, I awoke to discover that despite no previous signs of a sore throat, I had strep that had gone systemic.  Yes, giant spots covered my entire body, and Ken had to rush me to the nearest urgent care.  Fast forward to the following week when I happened to mention to the pediatrician at Katie’s physical that the spots would not go away.

The doctor took a quick peek and said “Spend 10 minutes every day outside in the sun exposing your body to the rays.  They’ll dry up and go away.”

“What about the pool,”  I asked.  “Would the chlorine help?”

“Absolutely,” she replied.

Willing to do whatever it took, later that day, I put on the new bathing suit that I bought at the beginning of the summer and had never even worn and quietly went out to the pool.  The water was warm and so soothing.  At first I just immersed myself in the luxurious liquid, and then I began swimming some slow, easy laps.  After a few minutes, I remembered just how much I love to swim.  I mean, I really, really love to swim.  I began doing different strokes, racing back and forth from one side to the other.  Then I just floated atop the water, letting it wash over me as I closed my eyes and relaxed in the glow of the late afternoon sun.  After about 30 minutes, I reluctantly dragged myself from the pool to go in and get dinner ready.

When I walked inside, Rebecca looked at me in surprise.  “You were in the pool?”

“Yep,” I replied with a smile.  I repeated to her what the doctor told me and then added, “This is the best prescription I’ve ever been given.  I wish my doctor would refill this at the beginning of every summer.”

“Mom,” Rebecca said, “you know, you can prescribe it to yourself.  You deserve to enjoy summer, too, and to get in the pool every day if you want to.  Nothing bad will happen if you take some time for yourself every day.”

Ah, the wisdom of a collegian.  As her words sank in, I realized she is absolutely correct.  Aren’t we always hearing about taking time for ourselves and paying attention to our own needs?  That seems so selfish to me!  But I can tell you, for the rest of the summer, each time I stepped out of that pool, I was in a better mood and felt more relaxed and ready to get back to whatever task awaited me.  The pool was good for my mind, body, and spirit (and by the way, the spots were miraculously gone in just a couple of days).

So I’m trying to remind myself each day, whether it’s an hour at the gym or a long, relaxing lunch, I’m going to take just a little bit of time for me.  So attention everyone I’ve ever promised to meet for lunch, I’ll be calling you to set a date.  We all deserve to prescribe some time each day to do something for ourselves.  I’ve realized that if I slow down and take just a few minutes for myself, everyone around me will benefit, including me.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.