There’s a moment in every pool party at our house when I find myself alone in the kitchen for some reason. Maybe it’s to fetch a trash bag, or a cold bottle of wine or to light the candles on a birthday cake. I take a second to look out the kitchen window and say “thank you” to Richard for picking out this house and for giving it to me.
He was a summer kind of person. He loved water of any kind–ocean, river, creek, hose, rain, pool. We were looking at another house in this neighborhood when we happened to drive past this one for sale. “Why isn’t that one on our list of possibles?” he asked. I figured it was out of the price range I was searching. Richard turned the car around and drove by again, slowly. “I think that house is on the river…” The wheels were already turning in his head and here I sit almost 10 years later, looking out over the river that flows through the backyard. Once he figured out there was water nearby, buying this house was a done deal.
He was so excited about owning a pool that he took a pair of swim trunks to the lawyer’s office (well, he left them in the car while we signed the papers!). We bought the house in late October of 2003. Even though the pool was a mite chilly by then, he dove in about an hour after closing. As I was laughing at his freezing ass, he made a vow to get in the pool every month of the year, at least once. And he did it. November, December, January, February–he did a cannonball off the diving board then made a hasty retreat out the nearest side, straight into the hot tub. March, he swam to the shallow end. April and May, he swam a couple of lengths.
Then came June. He hadn’t been feeling well for a month, no energy and a bad cough, but the doctor blamed it on bronchitis. His legs were covered in bruises but he attributed them to skiing in March, yard work in April, house work in May. It never dawned on us that they weren’t going away. One June morning, he dove into the pool as I watched from the kitchen window. He swam to the shallow end then stopped to lean against the wall instead of doing an underwater turn and swimming right back. He eventually swam to the deep end, pulled himself out and lay down on the diving board in the sun. All while I watched from the kitchen window. Never guessing.
By June 30th, he was diagnosed with leukemia. By July 1st, he was on a plane back to Baltimore, this time to Johns Hopkins. After all that excitement, Richard didn’t get to enjoy a full summer with a pool. So I try to keep it filled with people as a way of showing appreciation for the simple gift of being able to spend a day in the water. And I pause at that kitchen window to say thank you to the person who gave me and my family this joyful home.