“Swim to the Ladder!


At six years old, my only experience with swimming was at the local county pool in the kiddie side, not in the deep end where all the big kids played.  I loved the water and mom always had trouble getting me out, until one day, fate had another plan for me.

We went to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins who had a second home on the water.  Uncle Joe enjoyed clamming so we ventured out to get some clams for dinner.  After we drove the boat to a favorite spot, the adults went clamming.  Some of the kids paddled around in the water, including me, bobbing up and down in the Atlantic.  I always wore my life jacket, and adults were within arms’ length.

When we were all back in the boat toweling off, Uncle Joe asked me if I knew how to swim.  “Not really,” I said, “but I can dog paddle a little.”  In front of my protective mom, he unclasped my life jacket, picked me up, and tossed me into the ocean with incredible strength.  It felt like he threw me far away from the boat; in reality, it may have been 12 feet.

Amid my own panic, I could hear my mother vocally upset with Uncle Joe, screeching, “Dear God, Joe, what have you done?  She can’t swim!”  The boat seemed so far away and I was already swallowing plenty of salt water, thrashing about and tired.  I still remember vividly this terrifying experience.  My little legs moved very fast to keep my head above water.

He stopped my mother from jumping overboard and said, “Watch what she’s going to do.  Trust her.”

 Uncle Joe: “Julie, swim to the ladder on the side of the boat.”

Julie: “I can’t. It’s too far!”

Uncle Joe: “Swim to the ladder; you’re closer than you think.”

Julie: “I can’t.  Someone help me! (cough, cough)”

Uncle Joe: “You can do it on your own. Use your arms and legs. Swim to the ladder.”

Mom was still hassling Uncle Joe and he kept telling her, “Watch what she’s going to do.  She knows what to do instinctively.

Finally, I made it to the infamous ladder.  Waterlogged, ticked off beyond comfort, and angry at Uncle Joe, I didn’t speak to him for the remainder of the trip.  I had swallowed enough of the Atlantic to last a lifetime.  Why couldn’t he have just taken me in the water, like my dad did, and slowly guide me to the boat by the hand?  WHY such a harsh manner of teaching?

Hmmm.  Let’s consider this for a moment.  Sometimes we all need to be thrown in and “awakened.”

He said, “Watch her. Trust her.”

“You’re closer than you think.”

“You know what to do; swim to the ladder!”

He trusted me, my instinct, my ability; he taught me that I can do it.  I was so scared in the water, crying and yelling at the same time, really believing I was going to drown.  But instead, I made it to the ladder because of what he was saying to me.

All of us need to remember that no matter what ladder we are swimming toward, we will make it if we keep trying and don’t give up on ourselves and the loved ones who help us along the way.

boat ladderWhether you are starting a new company, handling a challenging estate, dealing with an illness, living through difficult circumstances, etc., my wish for you is that you have someone like Uncle Joe, who is on the sideline cheering you on.

I couldn’t stay mad at Uncle Joe for very long.  He must have seen a tenacity in me, even at a young age, and believed anything is possible.  And it is!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

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