I have lifetimes of memories, good intentions, things I hope to say, all within me, in my heart and in my memory…unknown, unthought of. Then God talks to me. And if I am very still He pours it out for me…all at once…words to say, a memory. I wait until it is over, listen to Him speak it….watch it play over in my mind like a movie that was years past, and then write it down. He reminded me of this memory this summer. I think He wants you to have it.
It was established in the mid nineteen fifties. My family joined in the early sixties and became the 366th members of Northwood Swim Club Inc. At the time we joined the club consisted of a bathhouse, a 25 ft swimming pool with attached deep end for diving, a high dive (3 yards) and 2 low (1 yard) boards, and a large circular wading pool for toddlers. It was where me and my siblings learned to swim. In the summertime it is where we lived. It was the best.
Over time a picnic pavilion and 2 tennis courts were added and with these a change of name to Northwood Swim and Tennis Club Inc.
The great memories of having Northwood as a summer pastime made joining a no brainer when our family started. For a couple hundred dollars a year you had available to you: swim lessons, (from beginner to lifesaving), tennis lessons and swim team. If you could get a group of friends together, which was never a problem, then there was also volleyball, shuffle board, four square, knock down, Marco Polo and on and on. It was/is a members only club. Gated and admissible only by photo ID card. At the age of 7 years a child could be left there unattended, the staff was that good. until 7pm. At the age of 12 years they could stay unattended until the pool closed at 10pm. Many of our friends belonged and we all watched out for each others children, even without being asked. They were never alone.
Along with Northwood my parents, in the summer of 1983, had a pool put in their backyard. My children were in the water from their first summer on. They are, as a result (and like me), fish out of water. They lived at the pool during the summer and became very proficient swimmers.
All this is background to the rest of this story.
For several summers swim team was part of our summer routine. I have never been one to allow sleeping in during the summer vacation…a few days following the last day of school, yes, but then…no. So we did swim lessons and swim team and tennis lessons in the morning…Monday through Friday for the better part of the summer for many years.
Then time and things got away from me and there was a lag period, for lack of a better word. We weren’t doing anything at Northwood, the money was not being well spent. So I pulled the reins back in. Everything was back on the schedule, no questions. Swim lessons, tennis lessons and swim team. There was no arguing, the kids were all very agreeable. Northwood was/is a great place. This was the summer of Tommy’s ninth grade year.
My parents have always been supportive of their grandchildren in everything they have done. Be it through church, school, or other activities, they always made a great effort to attend and watch them. What ever Aubrey, Michelle, Tommy, Brent, Hannah, Matthew, Addie, Robert, Justine or Jenna was involved with they did their best to be there. Missing anything their grandchildren did was a rarity for them.
It was at a home swim meet during this particular summer that my father came to really know Tommy, though Tommy was totally unaware. I worked at the swim meets as a timer or a runner and still vividly remember this particular evening. I remember my father coming up to me. I remember the look on his face….I remember his words. I don’t know exactly what talk was going on between he and mom, or through the family, but his words led me to believe that there was some talk. He said to me “I cannot believe how much Tommy is getting into this!” And Tommy was. He along with several others on the team around his age had become the official team cheering squad. Four of the boys, Tommy included, had put one letter each on their chests: N, W, S and C, and stood at the end of the pool and cheered when they were not up for an event. It was great and everyone was enjoying their efforts, team and spectator alike.
If my father came up to me once that evening about this he came up to me at least six times. Each time he approached me with that same look on his face and I knew what he was going to say, and it made me laugh out loud. I would say “Dad!” and then laugh. And he would laugh throw up his hands like he did and say “I just can’t get over it!” He just could not get over it. And it did not end on this evening. For weeks to come he would repeat it to me. And I am sure it was not just to me. He was so very proud of what he had seen in Tommy that evening.
There is a being proud of someone because of something they have done, an achievement. Being proud of those you love, children, grandchildren or family, comes without accomplishments. It is just always there. Then when you least expect it you catch these in the act of just being themselves. And in a flash this pride overwhelms you, grabs your heart and catches in your throat. I think this is what happened to dad that evening as he watched Tommy just being ‘Tommy’. Doing nothing more than simply being who he was…..a good person, enjoying life where it was. And he was overwhelmed with joy….with pride.
I think of all that Tommy has done and become in the years since my fathers death. His accomplishments in his profession, who he has become as a father, a husband, as a son, and most importantly as a follower of Jesus. And I wonder what he would think…..
…..and in my minds eye I see my father…..
…he is walking toward me with a look on his face I have seen before……
……and I know what he is going to say.
Happy Birthday Tommy
I hope I tell you enough how very proud I am, have always been, of you. I think I do not….I pray you never doubt it.
All my love, unconditionally, forever