This is a day I remember well. It was one of those rare, but wonderful, days spent together with my family doing things we loved to do. For me, playing in the water at the pool was a treat, and so was getting time and attention from my Daddy. Here he is holding me tight and keeping me safe at the swimming pool. Since I hadn't learned to swim yet, it was a little scary in the water, and I just wanted him to hold me all the time. Besides, he was my Daddy, and I couldn't get enough of him.
I remember him splashing and clowning and making me laugh. I remember him encouraging me to splash, too, and I would splash and feel so proud and I would feel so loved. I marveled at how he could blow bubbles and how the water could flow in and out of his mouth and how he never swallowed any and he never choked! My favorite thing was riding on his back while he did the breast stroke. He could glide so smoothly through the water and I remember feeling so safe... even at the deep end! Then, he had this thing that he would do when I least expected it. When we were just short of the edge of the pool, my Dad would take me and push me away and say "paddle!" and "kick!" I can remember being scared to death, but I paddled and I kicked and I got myself to the edge of the pool. I hated that. I hated him pushing me away. I hated being separated from him. I hated how hard it was paddling and kicking and getting to the edge on my own. But I did it... and I learned... and I came back for more.
Much of my life with my Dad was like that. Having a real relationship with him was elusive. It just wasn't to be. I wanted to be with him; I wanted the security of his love; and I wanted him to be proud of me. But just when I would feel safe and secure with him; just when I would relax and start to laugh; when I would least expect it, he would push me away again... and I would 'paddle and kick'. Some days I had to kick like my life depended on it. I hated it, but I did it... and I learned... and I came back for more.
Occasionally, now, I enjoy a memory or two of my Dad. I like to remember how entertaining he was; how he made us laugh. My sisters and I often find ourselves quoting his "one-liners" and enjoying a private chuckle. We remember the highs and the lows; the volatile moods; the enthusiasm that would rise and then suddenly take a nosedive. But the thing that makes me happy is that I can remember when he was young and handsome and brilliant and funny and that he loved me. That is how I remember him today; holding me tight and keeping me safe in the swimming pool...