Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No Gravity


I know her name--I'll call her Millie here. I know it because it is written on a piece of tape on the back of her jacket. Someone who cares for her has written it there because they are afraid she might wander off, become lost, and not be able to identify herself.

I see her regularly at the pool on those mornings when there is not a masters workout and there are lots of empty lanes. She has the halting step of one who is afraid--afraid she might fall, but also probably just afraid because of the confusion in her own brain. Her face tells the same story I've seen in some of my grandparents and great grandparents. If I had to guess, she can remember some long ago things very clearly, like perhaps the time when the man on her arm took her on their first date. But I would also suppose that she cannot remember much of what happened yesterday or 15 minutes ago. She might not even remember that man's name sometimes, perhaps only the feeling of his presence, his smell, or the way his arm feels, warm and steady.

But he's always there whenever she is there. He drives the big Oldsmobile, parks in the handicapped space, and takes her arm as they walk ever so slowly, with tiny, fearful steps, toward the front door of the aquatic center. If I were invisible, the only company to their walk would be the metallic hum of the arc lights, and the frogs and insects chirping out in the pines. He walks her through the door, and she takes the inside lane in the indoor pool.

He reads the paper. But she escapes. She swims an easy freestyle. She breastsrokes. She backstrokes.

And she smiles.

The fear is gone from her face, for there is no gravity here. There is no specter of muddled past. This, she remembers. Every feeling and sensation is recalled without effort from the past written in her muscle memory.

And she smiles.

Who had the more meaningful swim this morning--the middle-aged, mediocre Ironman trying to push himself through 200s? Or Millie?

20 comments:

Fe-lady said...

Beautiful...
In many ways Millie is lucky.
And so are you to watch her swim and smile.

And no, Greyhound. No mediocrity in you.

Spokane Al said...

This one put a lump in my throat. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Flatman said...

Whoa...this is a very powerful post, my man. Thanks.

Tri to Be Funny said...

beautiful piece of writing....

CoachLiz said...

We can either fight the water or let it embrace us. It can be a resistive substance 17 times denser than air or it can be a substance that removes the clutches of gravity. It is all in how you approach it. Is the water your playground or is it a torture chamber? Let it provide life rather than drowning you.

Pharmie said...

Beautiful post. Put a lump in my throat too.

LBTEPA said...

That is so lovely. Thanks for sharing it Greyhound

Lana said...

I'm not a cry-er...but that one almost got me. Beautiful. God bless her, and that man beside her.

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice post! Great story!

Benson said...

My best friends mother-in-law was like Millie.
Beautiful post. thanks.

Nytro said...

poetry.

well done.

Alili said...

Simply beautiful.

Sarah said...

I loved this post.

SixTwoThree said...

I love this post!

I share a lane with a guy in his 70s at the local pool. He has all his faculties, fortunately. Finishes every swim with 50 push-ups on the deck. I call him "Backstroke Bill." Most don't want to share a lane with him because of his occasional errant arm swings, but I figure it's good practice for me. And he inspires me.

IronJenny said...

You are an amazing writer. Thanks for posting. See you soon.
Jenny

BRFOOT said...

May be hope for humans yet.

Irongirl said...

Wonderful!
Thank you for sharing Millie with us.
:)

Kim said...

goosebumps and overwhelming urge to sob uncontrollably. you are such a talented writer grey. xoxo

J. Garry Power said...

Everything about this post was absolutely beautiful. After I read it I had to get my wife to come in and read it and we both sat there with tears running down our cheeks. Big tough triathletes!
Your writing is pure magic.

triguyjt said...

came this this particular post late in the game, but happy to have read it...very nice post sir..