Sometimes, They Just Miss
by Tim Philippart
Shivering atop the swimming pool slide, four-year-old Jenny didn’t want to do it. No taking the plunge for this kid.
My persuasion was sound, “It will be fun. Remember how much you liked the playground slide?”
It wasn’t working with her, “No. I don’t want to. I am not going to. It is a bad idea.”
With tears forming in her eyes, she agreed; after all, I am Daddy and I just said, “I won’t drop you.”
By the way, my glasses were off my nearsighted eyes.
Down the slide she flew, her shoulder-length hair and my bad eyesight, combined to make her look like a cute little Yeti. As she hurtled, I heard a quivering, “Catch me, Daddy.”
I intended to catch that wet, whimpering, very hairy, indistinguishable, little package that was rushing to delivery into my waiting hands. Somewhere along the slide, my weak eyes blurred.
My hands were out. I was as focused, as I could be. I whiffed. A clean miss. Never touched her. I thought I was going to die. I failed.
Meanwhile, she thought she was dying. She was sputtering and flailing her way to the surface (only three feet of water).
I was groping in the water like it was a muddy creek. I grabbed. Helped her to the surface and she said, with words that pierced my heart, “You didn’t catch me.”
I really wanted to catch her. I wanted to swoop her up into my arms to pull her up above the water and say, “Now that wasn’t so bad was it?”
I missed. After some fuming (she fumed well), and some tears, she forgave me. That’s the way I remember it.
Sometimes, people who love you, really want to catch you. They try. They just miss.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: With my daughter Jenny, about 1975, Arnold, Missouri. Near the time of the swimming pool slide incident. It was a happier time when she connected the most monkeys from the Monkeys in the Barrel game.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My granddaughter will, I think, someday, like stories about her mommy (Jenny)—especially when mommy was a little girl. This might be one of those stories.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tim Philippart retired to explore, write, and discover he wasn’t very retired at all. He ghost blogs, writes poetry, nonfiction, and an occasional magazine piece. He loves writing and wishes he had not waited decades to pick up the pen. He sees baseball as a metaphor for…Oh, he’s sorry, he keeps promising not to do that.