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The pneumonia winter gave way to spring before Beth felt well enough to request swimming at the YMCA. She attempted to put on a bathing suit by herself at home, much harder than other clothing, but accepted my help to finish.
At the pool, I stayed with her in the water, watching as she floated on her back and waved her arms gently underwater. She stayed in the pool about twenty minutes with frequent breaks at the walls. I lifted her out of the water carefully to avoid scraping her back. Even so, the concrete walls left her lower extremities with abrasions that healed slowly. She wouldn’t consider any kind of protective coverings for her legs or feet, except for a few waterproof bandaids on the worst of the scrapes.
Against my advice, Beth sang at tryouts for the high school musical Guys and Dolls.
With the pneumonia week in the hospital fresh on my mind, I stressed about her taking on too much. With two of her best friends, Ellen and Jackie, she bypassed the stage steps and took the long way through the choir room to the stage.
I drove Beth and Maria to and from rehearsals and we shopped for costumes at Goodwill. When a tornado watch started with a rehearsal underway, I returned to school early to pick them up and hurry to our basement.
Ohio’s tornado season escalated in significance for my family.
Previously, John would monitor the weather during watches and we very rarely camped out in our partially finished basement. No more. Beth felt compelled to heed every warning and watch at once, so we carried her down the steep basement steps. She couldn’t relax until everyone stayed in the basement, including Timber. The growing parrot sat heavily on her shoulder and played with her hair while she completed homework. When Timber hopped onto the papers in her lap, she prompted with his first words, up up, for him to jump on her hand.
One stormy midnight, Beth insisted on a family trek to the basement during a long tornado warning, not a watch. Losing sleep, she admitted her anxiety, similar to her response to the low gasoline light in the car. I offered to find a good counselor for her, but she emphatically declined.
A weekday afternoon when Beth stayed home with John, I sat in the bleachers at the softball field and watched Maria play on the high school team. A hard hit ball connected with the head of a girl from the other school. An ambulance drove right onto the outfield with lights blazing and sirens wailing. Maria didn’t hit the ball that hurt the girl, but the ambulance brought back unwelcome memories for both of us. We hugged behind the bleachers in tears.
The year anniversary of Beth’s injury approached.
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