“In the Big Pool of Love and Life,” column for Feb. 17, 2015

At the shallow end of an indoor Olympic-size pool at the Sports Center in Monterey, Calif., he waits for a signal from the instructor to join the class.

“Come on in, Randy,” she calls, and he wades right in, grinning and unafraid, a 4-year-old Neptune splashing boldly into his watery kingdom.

And suddenly the room grows brighter. Randy is my grandson. He shines like the sun. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

A leggy little girl waves both arms, begging him to join her. He does, and they sit together on the side of the pool, talking, laughing, adjusting their goggles and waiting for class to begin.

It’s a small class today, just Randy and two other children, both girls, 3 or 4 years old.

I wish you could see them.

Meanwhile, in the middle, deeper part of the pool, another class is warming up to “oldies” music from the ’60s, which for them is not all that old.¬†Twenty some “seniors” stand shoulder-deep in water trying to follow (more or less, depending on ability or desire) directions from their instructor, who stands on the side of the pool, bending and stretching, demonstrating exercises and calling out encouragement.

Nearby in adjoining pools, adults of various ages swim laps at their own pace, or take a break to steam in a sauna, while a lifeguard circles like a shark in an aquarium, keeping a wary eye on young and old alike.

I wish you could see all of them, too. Maybe you have. It’s a common scene repeated daily in sports centers everywhere.

The contrast between ages 70 or 80 or more years apart, is all the more striking when stripped down to a soaking wet swimsuit.

The little ones, so fresh from God, move like tadpoles in the water with their perfect pink bodies glistening and gliding, kicking and splashing, reveling in a beautiful abandon seldom seen beyond childhood.

But the seniors seem to be having a pretty good time of it, too, in a grown-up kind of way. No kicking or splashing, just bouncing, swaying, dipping and swishing, keeping hairdos and dignity high and dry.

Occasionally somebody needs a bathroom break. The little people get escorted by a parent or grandparent and are back in the pool in two minutes tops.

The seniors need a bit longer to work their way to the steps, take one step at a time, grab their walkers and push off to the restroom. If class is nearly over, they don’t bother coming back.

At one point, the instructor for Randy’s class gathers her young charges in a soggy little cluster (picture sea otter pups clinging to their mother) and together they float down to the deep end of the pool to practice more advanced maneuvers.

To get there, they paddle through the the seniors’ class. This causes a brief but welcome disruption as the elders make way, clearing a path, smiling and waving to the little ones, while the Beattles sing “All You Need Is Love.”

It’s a fitting theme song for both classes. The young love to move, especially in water. They are fish born to swim. And the old? They love life. To live well, they know they need to keep moving as best they can, hips, knees, hearts and minds.

The rest of us _ parents and grandparents, sitting on the sidelines, frizzy-haired and damp from steam _ we’re there just to cheer them on.

But in the pool of life, we all need one another. Shallow, middle, deep end or cheering section, we’re all in it together, trying our best to stay afloat.

After class, I wrapped Randy in a towel and took him to the dressing room. I was kneeling on the floor tying his shoe when suddenly he began to shiver.

He threw his arms about me, buried his face in my neck and I held him tight to warm him.

“Nana?” he whispered, as the shivering stopped. “I like it when we hold onto each other. I feel good. I feel … safe.”

I grinned into his wet curls.

“I know,” I said. “I do, too.”


  1. Sharon,

    Like little Randy, I think we all feel safe in the arms of your inspiring columns.

    Warm blessings,


  2. Again a lovely article of love and spreading sunshine even we are having days of clouds with no sun . God bless you ! Sharon making a day brighter with smiles of children mixed with your loving words .

  3. Jeffry Haugh says

    I always read your column early on Sunday mornings in the Evansville Courier & Press. What a great way to start a Sunday morning!


    I ENJOY YOUR COLUMNS SO MUCH,,my home town is RedKey IN, I know you have visited the school there,,Tom Jerles was principal at the time,, We now live in Arizona to escape the cold weather,,We go back to Indiana in the summers,,We have 11 grandchildren and 3 children,, In June we will celebrate 50 years of marriage,, I admire your writing,, it comes straight from your heart,,keep doing what you do,,you always bring a smile and a bright start to my day,,
    Aren’t grand children wonderful??? a big fan, Dianne

  5. Lovely…smiling all over. Thanks for some sunshine on this below zero day!

  6. Elizabeth Panni says

    No matter the topic, you always grab my attention. I love the details you describe and usually you bring a tear to my eyes. The end bit about the hug was precious. I always sign my cards and letters to my grandkids with XOXO. The 5 year knows that means “hugs and kisses”. Now she says “XOXO Gram-E” when we say goodbye. What would we do without these children? Thanks for your wonderful writing.

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