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  • Writer's pictureTerry Groves

B.R.A.T.S. Unlikely Heroes

Have you encountered heroes in your life? I hope you have. I recall one whose name I never learned.

It seemed I was always waiting to be big enough or old enough to do things my older brothers were already doing. I was not the most patient of brats and I tried to find ways to at least live on the fringe of their activities. They were often my heroes, when they weren't using their heroic muscles to pound on me,

One of the things I had to wait for was swimming. On the air base at Winnipeg in the early 60s, you had to be a certain age to join swimming lessons. You had to be old enough to be able to stand in the shallow end with your head above water. This would have made no sense to me since height has nothing to do with age. I was always tall for my age. Also, I was born late in the year so, my age at the start of the year put me too young to start when I wanted to. This was unlike school, where, as long as you would be the specified age within the school year, you could start. I got to start that ahead of other kids, at least in my mind, because I started when I was still four. Most of the other kids were already five. It didn't matter to me that I would be five in three months, I was going to school with five-year-olds when I was only four.

With swimming lessons, I had to resign myself that I would just have to wait. Not being able to go in the pool didn't stop me from going to the pool though. I could go and watch my brothers. I could even give them directions on thing to do in the pool to entertain me. Mostly they complied, making me feel like I was participating. Sometimes older brothers can be so cool to have. I would ask them to splash, spin as they swam, swim like sharks, and often they did. It was great.

When I finally did get to start lessons, I learned why they wanted you to be able to stand with your head out of the water. I could, when I was real close to the shallow end wall. During my first lesson, I stepped a little deeper and lost my balance and found myself needing to be on my very tippy-toes to keep my face just above the water. From that position I couldn't get my balance to move shallower. In fact, I was starting to fall backwards. Just before my face went under, a girl in front of me reached out, grabbed my hand and pulled me to safety. I had managed to utter a single "Help," and she saved me. I don't know who she was, but I have been forever grateful.

Keep your head above water

I never forgot that little action by her and the image of her calmly reaching out to me and pulling me into shallower water. I don't know if I would have drown without her help, there was an instructor who may have twigged to my predicament sooner or later, but she was the one who saved me. She is still my hero but I don't even know her name.

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