R.I.P. Mom's Pool


Fifteen years is a long life for an above ground pool.

It had served its purpose.

Mom's pool was a way to cool off in the steamy south Mississippi summers, it was a social place for family to bring their little ones, but oh, it was so much more.

In 1998, the death of husband, my two sons’s father was of course a hard pill to swallow. Zach was ten years old and Luke was six. They were very young and a death of this magnitude changes the course of young ones lives. I often wonder what paths they would have had if not for this devastating injury to their innocence. 

Still fresh in our memories was the summer of 97 when Norman and I had brilliantly thought it was an easy thing to buy a hundred dollar do-it-yourself pool for the boys. It came from Wal-mart. It was cheap. It was promised fun. It was torture for parents in a box!

We spent, long arduous hours, from morning til dusk setting it up. Filling it up. In the end, it was worth every back-bending swipe of the hoe in the thick grass! Those boys loved it!

It was those treasured memories I wanted to replay again, so when the summer was approaching during the first year of our loss, an ideal of a backyard pool kept creeping in and I could not get it out of my head. But not the cheap kind that only lasted a couple of months. I was thinking big. …much bigger.

There was one major flaw in my plan, I did not have my own backyard.  

However, my parents did, and  a nice, flat area in the far back of their own property made a perfect spot. Since they were grieving at the time and worried about my babies, they would have said yes to anything I asked. They said yes to a pool.

At first, I thought an in-ground pool. The cost was so much greater and then the permanence of it scared me off. I did not want my parents to have to deal with this forever. An above ground pool, a really nice one can be dismantled and hauled off if it’s a problem.

We drove to Slidell, Louisiana to a nice pool store and that is the first time we beheld the ‘lake.’ The largest above ground pool they made at that time and it was the definition of fun.

As the installation of the pool began, I took my parents, sister-in-law and boys on a Smoky Mountain vacation so that when we returned, the lake would be in their back yard, ready to go. 

It was.

Those are great moments, the kind where fun and laughter are involved.

Now, at 27 and 23 the boys don’t care to play in the lake anymore and live hours away from my parents house.

The pool had served its purpose.

When my sons quit coming over to swim, the pool was acquiring new purposes. The backyard became an escape for my Mom. 

Years of painful rheumatoid arthritis had twisted my poor dad’s body and at 48 he was disabled, as a result, his emotional state from being confined only deteriorated. My demanding and grumpy father became much for my Mom to bear. Her weekends should have been rest and relax time, but was not. To escape my dad’s mood or the house of dread, she would turn up her music that was popular when she was in high school (50s) and float in the lake, drifting away from all her problems.

Its been over two years since Dad died. Mom has not used the pool nearly as much. She misses him, but not the life she had those later years of his. 

Mom did not have to escape to the backyard anymore....she has been on cruises around the world and Disney World and living as much as she can.

The pool had served its purpose.

However, Mom’s pool was still used during the summer, by a couple of neighbor kids and nearby family kids. You can’t have a pool and not let anyone use it. It sits there beckoning company. An unused pool is a tragedy.

My example is the one behind my home in Huntsville.

My neighbor's kids live far away. Their in-ground pool was small but very inviting, especially as I worked twenty feet away on my side of the small mountain creek on my lot --sweaty and steamy. I gazed longingly at that pool, but was never invited to enjoy its cool, blue refreshing waters.

Apparently, no one was invited. For five summers, I recall less than a handful of times someone used it. The neighbor lady, always friendly except to point out deficiencies in my landscaping, never offered an invite to my twins. They could have made that pool a happy place, but it lay there in a state of neglect and despair until one morning I heard a large ruckus in the backyard. I saw heavy equipment banging and digging up her pool. 

It’s now a manicured lawn.

It never got to serve its purpose.

I mourn for the loss of my Mom’s pool. It did not go willingly. It burst in the night, years of use had finally weakened a wall and ripped it magnificently to its ruin. No amount of Mom’s duct tape will fix it. It has held its last water.

No more happy children’s laughter from Mom’s backyard, no more cooling off on a hot day, no more using the pool water to flush the toilets when the electricity or the well go out, no more bathing after a catastrophic hurricane steals your inside shower for weeks…..for that, the pool still had purpose.

Nothing lasts forever. Kids grow up, people die and toilets begin to flush again.





 

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