Sunday, April 6, 2014

"The world is getting to be such a dangerous place, a man is lucky to get out of it alive. ~ W.C. Fields

Today, like most every Suday, I was speeding along on the FasTrak through the California back country coming back from taking one of my most favorite people to Sunday dinner. I always look for hawks along that route, just because hawks are my favorite birds. The Cooper's hawks and the Redtails sit on top of the light poles along the way as though they are on kings' thrones. I love them! I've found out recently, though, that as a 1/64th Blackfeet relative, I really ought to like the eagles better... but I don't! Those hawks really fascinate me.

Today, instead of hawks, I saw 3 vultures circling a bit of land below them, and that means a nearly-dead something-or-other down below. Sad... Wonder if there would have been vultures over me in San Antonio, Texas when I was a little, little girl playing in the Officers' Club swimming pool... 

My brother was nearly 2 years old, and my Mom and Dad and I were at the Air Force base's Officers' Club swimming pool, with my brother Jack, of course, that afternoon in San Antonio, Texas, a looong time ago. At the ripe old age of 5, I was bored sitting there listening to the adults talk and my little brother whine. The pool was a much better option, especially because Mom and Dad had given me a plastic blow-up swimming "donut" to have fun with in the pool and to keep me safe from drowning.

There are only so many things a five-year-old can do with an inflatable "swim-donut." You can sit on it and float... You can lie, face down, on it and float... Or you can grab it and kick your feet while holding it out in front of you. That's about it. If there'd been other kids in that great big pool, I could have played with them, but I was the only one in the pool at all.

Although I was shy then, I wasn't dumb. In fact, I was quite an imaginative child. And that day I was quite bored. I stuck my arms through the donut hole and pretended I was a seal floating on an iceberg. It was fun for a minute or two, flapping my hands together underwater like they were flippers, but then that was boring, too.

What else can a little girl do with it? It was obvious! Put your hands behind your back and shove them, up to your arm pits, through the donut hole. Then, lay on top of it and float with your arms locked beneath you in the donut hole. Very original thinking, Terrible Terry Annie, as Grandad used to call me!

NOW, DON'T YOU DO IT! PROMISE ME THAT! Guess what happens? Since YOU are heavier than the silly inflatable donut, your own weight turns you over in the water so that the donut floats on top of YOU!

That was actually fun for 30 seconds. I'd never opened my eyes underwater before, and it was so pretty. However, unlike the fish I might imagine swimming there, I had no gills... and now I had no hands! They were completely stuck, locked behind me in that donut hole that was supposed to save my life. The more I wrestled with trying to pull my arms out of the insanely small opening, the more they wanted to stay there!

I had no earth-shaking thoughts or visions of a future life or any of the things I've heard people retell when they were facing death. I still can see the underneath of that pool, though. I suppose it's etched forever in my brain. I tried to yell, but all that came out was, "M-m-m-O-O-O," and then I realized I was filling up with chlorinated water.

At the last possible moment, obviously, my arms came free and I clawed my way to the air and breathed. I mean, I'm writing this, aren't I? I breathed actual air and I lived to tell the tale...

I also jumped out of that pool, and I've never really liked swimming pools since! When we were leaving, Mom said, "Terry, don't forget to bring your swim-toy with you." I answered a defiant "No!" So Dad fished it out of the pool before we left. Mom had her hands full with Jack, and I was always the "well-behaved child," you know.

Parents, do you know where your kids are????? Mom and Dad had called to check on me all the while that I was swimming in the pool, but I overturned in the space of 10 seconds, and then floated underwater for about 45 more seconds. The moral of this story is that being a parent is a tough, tough responisbility and can be scary. In fact, maybe it's best that you don't know all that your kids are doing every minute of every day... I don't know, though... I'm not a parent...


  1. That's an important message, Terry. Parents need to keep a constant watch, especially when there is a pool. I also had a similar near-drowning experience when I was little, and no one was watching. I remember walking up to my mother in sopping wet clothes, while she was in a group of women, talking.

  2. Cindy, I bet this has happened to lots of kids, and it was sooo fast that no one could have helped me before it was over. I couldn't call out or anything, and I didn't really quite know what was happening... I'm soooo glad YOU got out of that pool safely, too, my friend!

  3. I never had that scary of a moment, but I remember as a pre-teen having one that caused me to never get in a pool again. My mother and a friend were taking a day off work and decided to take us kids to the pool. The adults were sitting around talking while we kids were running and jumping in the pool, about the 4 ft level. It was fun until one time I slipped going in and went to the bottom. I remember my eyes were open the whole time. As I came back up I managed to grab onto the edge, got out, and was so frightened. I was too scared to even take swimming lessons after that But I'm glad to say that I made both my sons take lessons when they were young because most of their friends had pools.

  4. WOW! That is very cose to what happened to me. It's scary, but when you're young, you are learning soooo much about LIFE, aren't you. If nothing like that happened, we'd probably grow up to be more frightened of things than if we weathered them like we both have!