Being aware can be a life-saver

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 30, 2014

So many of my summer memories were birthed at the beach. I will never forget the hot summer days of  trudging toward the shore while trying to corral kids and balance towels, sunscreen, snacks, and bottles of water needed for the sole purpose of rinsing sand off of pacifiers. As soon as I would stake the umbrella at just the right angle, one of my precious children wanted to return to the pool area to play with her cousins. They really were good times which became easier every year.

Although she doesn’t swim, my Mom often accompanied us to the beach. I didn’t understand why, but I never complained and welcomed her company. When she wasn’t sitting by the pool as the object of the children’s pleas of, “Watch this, Mimi!” she was cooking or cleaning or playing cards with the older grandchildren. 

Only recently did she reveal the reason she packed her bags every summer to join us. “Your Dad made me go.” 

“What?” My sister Kay and I were confused and more than a little curious.

“Yes. He thought y’all wouldn’t watch the kids carefully enough so he told me I had to go and help.”

Did that offend us? Absolutely not. I don’t believe you can ever be too careful when mixing children and water and I’ve always appreciated an extra set of eyes. 

Despite what I’ve always thought, a Reader’s Digest online article revealed that a drowning person usually does not kick, flail, or scream to attract the attention of someone who can help. A person struggling in the water is fighting to breathe and cannot call for help, but will appear still and quiet, possibly with their head low in the water, looking up. When around water, we should look for these not so obvious signs of someone in distress and be prepared to offer assistance.

Reading the article made me wonder if people who struggle on land may go unnoticed as well. Rarely does someone scream, “I’m depressed. Help me!” Or “Yes, I’m smiling because if I stop for just one second I’ll burst into tears.” 

I hope to become better able to recognize people whose life battles are becoming too difficult to handle alone. I’ve often needed a shoulder to cry on or someone to help me sort out my feelings and want to be used to help others since I have so often received assistance. 

My season of guarding pools has come and gone, but my responsibility to my neighbor in need is lifelong.


Ronny may be reached at