Somewhere in Illinios or Oklahoma in the 1960s my mom took the above picture of Dad, my brother Danny, and me. (I remember, I think, sleeping on one of those same air mattresses by night in our tent, finding myself united with the hardness of earth each morning, Dad reinflating it every evening by the power of his daddy-lungs.)
For a few weeks Tim and I have been swimming with his father, LeRoy, at the pool in their retirement community's rec center. My dad meets us there, too, on occasion, whenever his schedule is free and the painful neuropathy in his legs isn't too bad.
Despite my hampered mobility due somewhat to fibromyalgia and mostly to being out of shape, I love splashing about for half an hour. Tim, goggle adorned, becomes a submarine, and I only glimpse him voyaging beneath me. LeRoy follows a precise, set routine of shallow and deep water exercises. The days Dad is there, he and I visit in the deep end, he using a foam float and me treading--wafting my arms and legs in a fantasy of mermaid grace.
Of course I make for the hot tub the moment it's available. My dad can't join us there, because a while ago he had a pacemaker installed. Dad exits the pool slowly, his excellent posture undiminished, and heads for the showers.
I recall Dad commenting once in a parking lot, while a stooping, elderly man whose space we were waiting for slowly lowered himself into a car, "Will I end up like that someday?" At the time, not so many years back, it seemed unthinkable. Now, though his spine remains erect, Dad moves just as slowly, the lowliness of aging having provided him a humble process that he shares with me, as we visit and waft, weightless in the deep end, his wide blue eyes powerful still.