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A Summer Swim

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Granddaughters don't even have to double-dog-dare you

With two knee replacements under my belt, I was ready to get out of the house and do something. Billie voted for swimming. Mostly am trying not to walk like the penguin  I have been emulating for the last 20 years or so, and on a good day, I resemble a flamingo walking pigeon toed, trying to bend and flex knees that haven’t bent or flexed in many a year. But this was Billie, and pretty much what she votes goes. It’s not like she is spoiled or anything, it’s just that she knows how to have fun, and when she makes up her mind that she wants to do something, there is no talking her out of it. So swimming it was! 

“Come on in, Yaya,” Billie’s teeth chattered as she tried to persuade me. “Really, it’s not that cold!” Yeah, right, I could see her blue lips! But, being a good Yaya, I stuck my toes into Lake Pend Oreille. It was late September and I am still trying to catch my breath today. Billie was right, it wasn’t cold. It was freezing. I don’t mean, freezing like your hamburger meat in the fridge, either. I mean freezing like hot ice on your tongue in the middle of winter on Scotchman. I was pretty sure I had spontaneous frostbite of the toes! 

What you have to understand is Billie has great powers when it comes to getting her Yaya to do things. (If you have grandkids, you understand this already!) Stacey had to hold my arm, because my knees were still very unsteady. So, not only  did I have to endure the frosty H2O, but Stacey was beside me all the way, chill bumping with every step! We made it to our ankles. I felt like I was in cold water therapy at Caribou Therapy in Hope! Jeesh. 

The words “cold” or “freezing” don’t do the frigid water justice. My hands were clasped around Stacey’s arm in a death grip; I was afraid to let go for fear of turning into a giant,  free-standing iceberg if she got too far away from me. Stacey told me we needed to just let go and jump the rest of the way in. Really, Stacey, I cant jump anywhere, especially into ice water so bitter my wedding ring might become  bonded to my finger permanently! 

Finally, I was able to make it to my knees, where both scars puckered angrily at the touch of the ice water. From my knees down I was numb, which should have made me not feel anything, but instead made me feel every little goose bump there was, (there were plenty, by the way), in places you wouldn’t think goose bumps would be brave enough to go! 

Stacey and I bravely stepped further into the lake, gasping for every breath. Billie was at least 10 feet further in the water than we were, performing mermaid stunts, splashing about like it was nothing. I envied her youth at that moment. When you are a child, it doesn’t matter how cold the water is or if your body gets used to it… you just play. 

We stood still, waiting for our bodies to get used to it. Billie smiled at me. “I am already used to it, Yaya. You can’t because you have old skin.” Did my six-year-old granddaughter just inform me I’m old? 

Not panicking yet, I decided to ask a little further. “What do you mean, Billie?” I fished. “Well, Yaya, you are old. You have to be at least 18!” 

Inwardly I grinned. Billie is almost perfect to me, you know.  “You are right, Billie, I am at least 18.”

“I knew it!” Billie giggled. “That must mean Brad is at least 19,” she continued. “Oh, no, Billie,” I countered. “Brad is 53!”

I looked over at Stacey, who was snickering. “You wish,” she laughed. 

Really, though, I don’t wish I was only 18. Those were terrible years, when I learned that my parents were smarter than I thought they were, and I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did! 

Stacey and I stood, trying to get accustomed to the glacial water licking our knees. It was so cold I didn’t think I would ever get used to it. One more step into the water and our thighs were covered. My nether regions tried desperately to make their way north. I cant even imagine if I was a man! At long last I made it into the water to my neck. My teeth were chattering so loud I was sure the smarter adults (who were still standing on shore) could hear them. I told Stacey I couldn’t really take any more and I needed to get out of the water. My knees did feel better, though. 

I watched as Billie swam under the water beside me like a shiny fish. She can even keep her eyes open under the water, which makes my own eyes water just to think about it. After about an hour of going in and out, getting wet and drying off, we decided to go on back home. By the time we sat through the road work on Hwy 200, I was wanting to go back to swim. We only made it home by promising Billie we would go back the next day and we would force Brad to go with us. Trust me, Billie is a force to be reckoned with. 

The next day, with Brad in tow, (he finds it hard to say no to Billie, also), we headed for the water again. Although I really wanted to swim, the water was soooo cold, the idea of getting in made my body revolt! Of course, Brad sided with Billie and they both called me a wimp. (Then Billie asked Brad what a wimp was!) 

I am no wimp, I just have the common sense to know when the water is too cold to be comfortable in and the water was way too cold to “get used to.” Did that stop me from swimming in it? Well, of course not... after all, I had been called a wimp. 

Once again Billie ran ahead and threw herself into the water, laughing all the way, jumping up and down encouraging us to all get in, fooling us about it not being cold. Brat. I latched onto Stacey’s arm to make the long trek into the frosty lake, pretty sure the new metal in my knees was going to shatter in the cold. I couldn’t even make it all the way to my hips before giving in and turning toward the shore. Maybe I was a wimp, but I wasn’t going to be a teeth-chattering, arm-shivering, lunatic-looking-like-a-giant-smurf-sitting-on-the-shore kind of wimp! 

Brad was standing on the shoreline laughing at me. He hadn’t gotten into the water yet, but was there making fun of me, cracking jokes about how we were pansies. Billie swam towards Brad and I knew what was coming. “Come in, Brad,” Billie’s oh-so-innocent voice said. “I want to show you my tricks in the water I learned.” Brad was unable to resist. “Okay, Billie,” Brad grinned. Then he threw himself into the lake. He went almost under the water, but not quite. His vocal chords rang loud and clear—soprano! 

Ahhh… ya gotta love KARMA!!!

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Author info

Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

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Jinxed, swimming, granddaughter, grandparenting

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