Pool of Memories

Last week my beau and I spent the week in Florida. I swam every day at the condo pool, my creaky joints soon cutting through the water like an old pro. I had forgotten how much I loved the water and was immediately struck by the memory of how I learned to swim at age 7.

It was Grade 2 and I had entered a water safety poster contest sponsored by the Red Cross. Lucky for me, I won for my age group and the prize was a season’s pass to the pool at Harrison Park, the main park in my hometown of Owen Sound.

This was exciting for me since my family didn’t go camping or take part in many activities together (but that’s another story) so going to the pool became my fun for the summer. My older sister Lori took me since I was too young to venture across town on my own and we spent many hours together as she taught me how to swim. I remember her hands gently holding me up in the water as I learned to float and how she taught me to hold my breath when I plunged underwater. She even saved me once when I was literally in over my head.

This was a special time for us, before personality conflicts and family problems put us at odds against each other. My memories of the pool are especially poignant these days as Lori battles mental illness and is in hospital. She can no longer care for herself and will be moving into a nursing home as soon as a spot becomes available.

The past month has been very difficult as I have watched her turn into a different person, someone I don’t understand but feel immense compassion for. We have not been close for decades but circumstances have brought us together once again, this time with me looking out for her. As we work our way through this traumatic time, I hope I can be as gentle with my sister as she was once with me.


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8 Responses to Pool of Memories

  1. kellypriebe says:

    That is a very heart felt piece Leanne, I can’t imagine how helpless you feel right now, trying to come to terms with Lori’s condition will be one of the hardest things life will throw at you.
    Hang in there and remember your family is always with in reach, you just have to hold out your hand and we will catch you.
    On a happy note, I remember your Mom, Lori, Glenda and I going to Kelso beach in your Mom’s Volkswagen Wagon 🙂

  2. Thanks, Kelly! I remember those days too. How did we ever swam in that frigid water? Brrrrr. I sliced my knee open there when I was ten and needed 12 stitches. Ah, good times!

  3. jzwaniga says:

    It’s good to have nice memories like that of your sister. i enjoyed reading this. Good luck with everything.

  4. Emily says:

    What a poignant memory, beautifully told.

  5. Thanks Emily. I think grief will be a recurring theme in everyithing I write. Maybe a memoir?

  6. Louise says:

    A very moving post. Appreciate the sharing. Old ties are like blood running through our veins, they have such strength. I wish you and your sister well.

  7. Hello Louise;

    It’s been very difficult resolving how my sister used to be to what she is now. Although we have not had a good relationship for many years, stepping up to the plate to help her now is the right thing to do, even though it is hard. Hopefully she will improve enough so we can build a new relationship.

    Thanks for getting in touch.

  8. I was glad to find your post. Wow. It sounds like we have so much in common. My sister and I were out of touch for decades and about 4 years ago we reconnected. We were not close even when growing up – my Mom had a way of setting us against each other. Jerri, like Lori, is battling mental illness and I’m trying to care for her as best I can. Its difficult for so many reasons. Mental illness is frightening and challenging when it happens to a loved one; its even more so when it happens to someone you feel you barely know. I recently started a blog for people like us who are trying to care for our siblings with mental illness. I hope you’ll stop by. Are you involved with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)? Someone put me in touch with my local chapter when we were going through a particularly traumatic time and they helped me immensely. Their Family-to-Family class (free!) was fantastic. I realize this post is a little old–I hope things have settled down.

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