I remember the bright yellow sun and the sky being as blue as an ocean. The smell of hot dogs and sunblock in the air gives me feelings of home. Putting my toes in the water, I sit on the aluminum ladder, imagining my feet are the fins of my bright green mermaid tail. The next flash is water rushing into my nose as I push with my feet, searching for the floor. My eyes rise above the waterline and I see himlaughing and telling me to swim. My father was just out of arm’s length and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t reach him. I can still feel my heart racing and my body becoming flush with panic and fear.
In my memory, I feel angry and confused. Why would my father stand idly by while I struggled to stay above water? This detail troubles me and makes me question my recollection of this day. Speaking with my mother, she confirmed my memory but was unsure of the exact day this specific event occurred. My feeling is that I was around five years old at this time, but she quickly corrects me and says I was three years old. I go on to ask her about this day and why my father would do this. She says that he would often do this with my sister and I. It is how he learned to swim, so he thought it would help us in some way. Not only did this memory impact the way I thought of my father growing up, but even now I struggle to understand this day.
If I had the opportunity to ask him if he remembers this day and how I reacted, maybe even how it made him feel to see his three year old daughter struggle… I would.
Unfortunately, those details will not be known as I no longer speak to my father.