My six year old son, Doug, came running up to me and said, “Dad, Dad, mom is under water !” Knowing how my wife hated water, I knew this was not good news. In fact, the headlines in the next Houston Chronicle might read, “Mother of two drowns in kiddie pool while on vacation” popped into my brain.
In 1972 our family decided to take a trip from Houston to California, specifically to Disney Land for our summer vacation. So my wife, son, and daughter trekked on a budget of $50.00 per day for a fun vacation in sunny Hollywood and surrounding tourist traps. Except for the fact that the water, with its high mineral content, kept my wife’s digestive system torn up, we had a great time. It was only on the way home that we read a sign posted at a California rest stop that we knew about the water. On any future trips to the west coast, we would know to take bottled water along.
On the last day of our vacation we were in Brownwood, Texas headed home. We decided to spend the night at a motel there, so I allowed the kids to pick out the motel. Their only criteria was that it have a large swimming pool. As luck would have it, we drove past a nice motel that had not one, but two swimming pools. The large pool was connected to a small wading pool of about two feet of water. That was enough for the kids, so we registered there for our last night of vacation.
As soon as we reached our room, the kids were donning their swim suits and ready for the challenges of the pools. My daughter was around 9 years old and already a good swimmer. My son had not learned to swim as yet, and my wife, Clara, was afraid of water. She never allowed her head to go underwater for any reason. She paid for this during high school as she was always the first to be thrown into the pool or lake.
A little strategy was called for here. My daughter and I headed for the large pool with its high diving board. My wife and son decided the wading pool with a small water slide would be appropriate for them. She sat in a lawn chair and watched as Doug splashed in the water, and rode down the slide many times. Then the idea struck her... This is the last day of vacation, it won’t matter if I get my hairdo messed up. Besides, that slide looks like a lot of fun. If Doug can do it so can I. Playing in the water looks like fun.
So Clara got up, walked over to the kiddie pool, stepped into the cool water, and sat on the side. Doug encouraged her to slide down into the shallow water, landing on her feet. It seemed easy enough, and fun, too. He had done it a dozen times already.
Getting up, discarding her towel, she waded over to the slide, climbed up it, sat down, and away she went. Unfortunately, her feet went up in the air about the time she hit water, and under water she went, her head and all. What a revolting development this was…nothing like she had envisioned.
To make matters worse, she could not seem to get her feet underneath her body in order to stand up. It was then that Doug decided he had better come get his dad as he knew the situation was critical.
Kay and I ran around to the wading pool in time to see Clara sitting on the side of the pool, coughing and spitting out pool water. She had finally gotten to her feet and her head above water. She reminded me a lot of the way our poodle used to look when still wet from a bath.
While we were consoling her, a lady who had witnessed the whole incident walked up to us and said, “Well, honey, I began to get worried about you when I saw you come up for the third time.!” My wife thought to herself…Well, if you were so concerned about me, why didn’t you jump in and pull me up..?
Well, all’s well that ends well. Doug learned to swim later on, Kay was a good diver, but Clara still won’t allow her head under water. In fact, I think she puts on water wings when she takes a shower.