We got word that my high school swim team coach died and I found myself reading through a host of memories and tributes to him.
So I jumped into the deep end of the pool of memories and thought about a life I used to live in a world so very different from the one I occupy now.
That is my name on the wall in the picture above and once upon a time it was there in two other places, recognition of tens of thousands of yards of swimming and countless hours of other training.
The school still exists but the names have been painted over and now there are some pictures in albums, yearbooks and those we retain in our memories.
My middle sister’s name was on the wall too and once upon a time a kid at gym in the Valley asked me how I managed to be listed on both the men’s and women’s teams.
I asked him if he ever heard about having similar initials but he didn’t catch on and I walked away because I hadn’t any interest in engaging in the first place.
Today little sister and I only share the same first initial but we have some similar memories as she was there for many of those same workouts and competitions.
It is about thirty six years since the last, but the memories are more than splashes of color in between my ears.
The Last Day Of My Life
One set of my great-grandparents got married 120 years ago.
They exchanged their vows in Montreal never expecting that one day a great-grandson would write about it from a different country using a piece of a technology they couldn’t have imagined would exist.
I never got the chance to meet my great-grandfather but I was a short of 13 when my great-grandmother died so I have lots of memories of her.
Something about the news, the memories and a host of other things got me thinking again about whether I want to know definitively when the last day of my life is.
Thought about family and friends who entered hospice and considered what lead to those decisions.
Would it be better to be able to plan things out or better to be surprised? Would I want to engage in some sort of adrenaline junkie activity or spend it in quiet contemplation?
Certainly don’t want it to be painful, got no need to try to end it like a warrior.
Got no interest in checking out any time soon, I have things to do. Got to make like Johnny chasing and catching his June.
Got to get some answers to big questions ranging from who will my children grow up to be to who will I grow up to be.
Got places to see, experiences to have and who knows maybe an Ironman in Hawaii to train, compete and finish.
Those days in the pool may be a lifetime ago but the muscle memory exists and science knows water is our friend.
That sort of training may hurt my lungs and make my muscles scream at being used in ways they had forgotten about, but the wear and tear of a life well spent won’t weigh upon me the same as it does upon land.
The hardest part is the commitment to fight through the pain of training my body to get back into shape to train as a swimmer does and not as a man who occasionally dips himself in bodies of water.
The kid who could swim for thousands of yard, who could spend hours in a pool or ocean still lives inside me and the man I am now claims to understand how to bring him back.
That guy is crazy and unwilling to let the thought of how hard it will be to rouse the boy from stopping him…if he commits to it.
You may call that hedging but not me. If I decide to do it I will go the distance to getting myself in shape to really train.
The point isn’t to get back to competition against anyone else other than me.
So thrilled you have that shot of your name on the wall. Amazing how a stencil
of your name can still produce those powerful feelings of a place and time.
I do see an iron man in you.