Friday, July 04, 2008

I'll Just Go Wading

FosterAbba here, posting another update from Yondalla:

For three days I have barely wandered further than the deck of this cottage. A couple of times I have walked the dog a bit down the lane, and I have walked across the way to the other cottage, but really that is all. I have not gone on fishing trips or swimming parties. I have not even explored the creek. Today, however, I went along to the lake to swim, or rather to wade. I really had no desire to jump into a cold mountain lake.

So I wore my shorts, took the dog, and planned my relaxation. Then Gary and the caretaker's granddaughter decided to swim across the lake. It wasn't that far, right? Gary swam with strong strokes. Princess not so much. Sis asked me if I was worried about Gary. I said no, at least if the Princess didn't decide to pretend to be in trouble and drown them both. Then nephew decided to do it. Sis said she wasn't worried. Nephew would turn around, but he did it. He stopped to float a few times, seemed tired at the end, but he made it.

Sis was impressed and a little concerned about whether he had exhausted himself. When he and the Princess started right back she got worried. She borrowed a large floaty thing from some other swimmers and went out to meet them. Caretaker and I watched and debated whether she would make it. Sis isn't a strong swimmer and she just wasn't moving fast. So I took off my glasses and dove in to help. I started off strong and impressive-looking I am sure. It wasn't long before I remembered that I was in terrible shape. I got to Sis though and we got to her son and the Princess mid-lake. They denied they needed a break, but indulged us by resting and holding onto the floaty thing until they were breathing normally. We all made it to the dock. Personally, I was pretty proud of myself. It was further than I had swum in a long time.

Sis said, "are you worried about Gary?" I assured her that he was a strong swimmer and probably just enjoying the solitude. Except he still made no move to return.

Finally I started trying to yell across the lake. "ARE YOU OKAY?" Sadly, none of us could understand his response. I yelled again, "DO...YOU...WANT...HELP?" The answer came barely audible. "Yes."

So again with the borrowing. I put on a life jacket and took a flotation mattress. It would be easier to push than the fake inner tube thing Sis borrowed.

And I swam. And swam. And swam some more. My legs were getting tired and I had to tell myself I was getting closer. Towards the end I wasn't sure if I wanted him to swim to me to save me some effort or if I wanted to get there so I could have a rest. I was relieved though when I saw him head my way.

He got to me and grabbed the mattress. There was embarrassment and anxiety in his eyes. He told me that he hadn't realized how far it was until he was there and that he had a cramp in his leg. He kept thinking about how scared he had been when his dad had thrown him in the water to teach him to swim. I told him that waiting for help was the right thing to do.

I tread water and took off the life jacket and got it on him. It was difficult but the panic in his eyes subsided. We both held onto the flotation mattress and kicked. My legs were aching and though I said I wanted to rest a couple of times, he would start looking panicked again, so I would just make myself kick.

He was doing well. It was like being with someone who was afraid of heights, knows they are safe, but still has to put all their energy into controlling the panic.

After I have no idea how long, we were within one standard pool length of the dock. He let go and started to swim. I was able to put the mattress under my belly and use my arms, which helped. I stayed even with him though and he kept looking at me for reassurance.

We made it to the dock. He was able to get up first and then pulled me up. Strength had never been the issue for him; I just lay there a while, not trusting my legs. He stood on the dock hugging himself and looking scared. I got up and hugged him saying, "Thanks for pulling me up."

I realized he really needed to leave and I made the one decision I regretted. I didn't ask Sis to drive. I made it, but my legs were trembling hard enough that it was difficult.

Back at the cottage I called the shower first. Reasonable I thought as I was wearing soaking wet cotton twill shorts and t-shirt. I do not, by the way, recommend that attire for long distance swimming.

As soon as I got out I realized that if I was still out of breath it was an asthma attack. I used my inhaler and then used it again ten minutes later. Nephew said, "Wow. You're in bad shape. Didn't you used to be a lifeguard?"

"Yes. I also used to be in shape."

I went to Sis's cottage to wait for the asthma attack to quiet. I was very conscious that Gary needed us not to make a big deal of this and it would be hard to sound casual if I couldn't breathe without coughing.

I was pleased when Roland told me that Gary told him about it. Roland said he was sort of sheepish but seemed to think it was important to explain why I was sopping wet.

He seems fine now. We had huge steaks for dinner and we both impressed ourselves by eating them all. He even joined in with the family conversation.

My breathing is almost normal and my legs aren't shaking at all. I rather expect that I will swim back and forth across that damn lake all night in my dreams.

1 comment:

  1. In a nearly exact situation, a young man at our family reunion began swimming into the deep (following a girl), even though he wasn't a strong swimmer. To make a long story short, Mr.4444 (a former lifeguard) ended up saving his life. I'm glad Gary has some sense (and that you've still got it; enough anyway! :)


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