I’ve looked at maps trying to figure out where the beach was – my guess is Seward Park. Between my mother and my grandma, there was sure to have been a fabulous lunch, perhaps fried chicken and potato salad. Maybe watermelon and cookies or cake. Or donuts. Grandma did like to buy us donuts. (“Say Pat, do you think we should stop and get some D-O-N-U-T-S?” And I would yell “YES!”)
So I found a picture of Seward Park taken in the 50s and it seems quite possible. The main thing about my life-long swimming adventure is that on this occasion, the water was NOT freezing cold. It was warm and lovely, due to the shallow nature of the geography of the shoreline. You had to walk out a long ways to get to waist deep. Jayne and I stayed near the shore and pretended to swim while actually just walking around on our hands. This led to my actually dog paddling around and figuring out that I could dog paddle quite a long distance.
This is a red-letter day in my life story because that was the day I learned to swim. I was still not confident in the water and would never swim where I could not stand up and be head above water. It was so validating to have accomplished something I had worked so hard on for so many miserable days in that cold cold water of Union Bay. I learned today it’s really called Lake Union, but whatever. That’s how I remember it.
And I can still remember how unpleasant it was to try to swim in that cold water. I tried so hard and I hated it so much. Then one day, I swam in shallow warm water and boom – I could do it. I could swim.
It makes me feel good to think about that, even today at age 71. And it does my heart good to remember Grandma Chandler. She was a sweet and gentle soul, the kind of Christian anyone could aspire to be, and merry too with a humorous wit and a kind and diplomatic nature. I feel her warmth as I feel the warmth of some beach in Seattle when I was nine years old.
Link to Non-Fiction -- Memoirs -- Swimming Through My Life