If you ask sister Alicia (who teared up) and my mother (who was sick about it--almost literally) a tragedy of the most epic proportions occurred this weekend. My dad and my uncle Andrew took down the swimming pool.
Seeing it from my dad's point of view, one could be convinced that this was a proper action to take: as work progressed you could see that there wasn't much life left in the pool anyway; the trees planted when the pool went up have taken over, constantly dripping leaves and keeping the pool in more shade than sun; and mostly because, just before Christmas, some $%*#&$# punks stabbed holes in the sides of the pool every few feet with what looked like a screwdriver while we were out enjoying a Christmas get-together. To my dad, it was a no-brainer. To everyone else, it was an assault on pleasant memories. Or, as Alicia said, "Goodbye happy childhood!" I can see both sides, but I was oddly not nostalgic and weepy over this. Normally I would have had my own personal sob-fest and only half-jokingly paraded around the yard in protest carrying a sign that said something dinky that rhymed with the word pool.
On Sunday, sister Rachel and her prego belly came over. We got "in the pool" one last time and just stood there looking around, like we were waiting for something to happen or to hear our memories brought to life yelling "Marco!....Polo!" Z-man got "in" too, and said that he could only swim length-wise once without coming up for air and he wanted to see how many times he could run (it was 5, if you're interested).
It's very eerie to take a gander at a spot where something so big stood for 28 years and to see nothing but rubble. In an instant--done. Gone. If you ask my dad it was way longer than an instant. All I know is I went to buy shoes and when I came back it was almost over.
Truth be told I haven't gone in much over the past bunch of years. Maybe once a season? I'm just not a sun person. I'd rather sit on the porch and read and sip my iced tea, and listen to the giggling and the splashing and arguing over whose turn it is to get the ball that got knocked out. But still...that pool is one of my earliest memories.
It was built in 1984, a basic 4-foot above-ground pool, about 15 by 30 feet. I think everyone in my family was involved in its construction at one point or another. I would leave for school in the morning with my mom (I was finishing up kindy-garden :) and walk through the yard and down the back path for one block into the schoolyard. I so vividly remember differing groups of men (not strangers mind you--uncles, cousins, etc.) digging the hole and then doing whatever else.
My grandpa was a landscaper--that's his big old yellow work truck in the background. The guy on the left in the long-sleeved shirt in the photo above was one of his employees. I don't remember if his name was Sonny or James (but I think it's the latter), but those two, and another guy named Claude, were my grandpa's "crew." I remember them always making me feel a little bit special, just by noticing me. Claude would bring candy for me and my brother, and on my walk to school Sonny/James would say "Good mornin' Miss Bethany!" It made me feel quite important indeed. That single little memory brings a tear to my eye more readily than the tearing down of it all...I wonder why it meant so much to me.
An excellent way to see how much time has passed is to pay attention to the trees. I cannot beLIEVE how small these used to be. I was only 3 when we moved in, but I remember the most hideous landscaping (and the inside had some interesting choices as well--especially the bathroom tile). My grandpa fixed it right up, he and his guys. I don't know that he'd have planted the same trees if he knew just how big some of them were going to get...
I have no idea why they kept working in the rain this day. But that's my grandpa and grandma and my cousin Peggie. Sadly, these three have moved on from this world, but I think of them often. When I'm sewing, of course, I think of my grandma. When I'm trying to convince myself to live in the moment and enjoy life I think of Peggie. And when I'm trying to decide if an action is proper, I think of my mom saying "If your grandfather had seen that he'd have killed you." Yeah, right. Pop-pops are such pushovers :) We used to have a giant meat market (literally--fresh cuts of everything) just behind us, hence the wall of trees you see in the early stages of covering that lovely orange wall up there.
That was the backyard in 1984. Those saplings and tiny arbor vitae in the very back behind the pool are now humongous, but they're my favorites.
Here it is a few years ago at our Memorial Day wiffle ball game--you can see how the trees have grown waaaaaay huge (working on those is going to be part of the whole relandscaping part of this project):
We've been talking about what we should do in that spot. My sister wants an in-ground pool. I want holly bushes and a pink dogwood tree, and a spot where we can have picnics (FYI: I have never once claimed maturity :) My mom wants to hit the rewind button and have it all the way it was. My dad isn't sure yet... But one question remains unanswered: where are the game announcers going to sit during our summer wiffle ball games?
Because I promised you short shorts and silly socks, here's a picture of what we did before ball games--that wonderful Italian pastime, bocce.
In case you were looking for me I'm in that there photo. That's my pointy elbow sticking out of my cousin's hip on the far right. I can just make out me, cocking my skinny little hip, pestering the hell out of her. I miss those days. Thank you, swimming pool, for being part of them :)