My oldest daughter Maria stuck to her plan to relocate to Boston when she graduated from Heidelberg. She hustled with a heavy class load to finish a double major in three and a half years. Before long, two of our three children would be in Massachusetts.
John agreed with me that we could live there, too.
He knew how much I wanted to be with our kids. He started his thirtieth year of teaching in Tiffin, his last before retiring in Ohio. We planned to sell our house in the spring and move that summer. John decided he’d teach for a few more years in the Boston area because of the much higher cost of living there.
At Harvard, Beth swam six times a week her junior year, and rode the bus at 6 a.m. with her teammates who lived in the Quad.
She often arrived at Blodgett in sweatpants, with a swimsuit underneath that she’d pulled on before getting out of bed. The team stretched together on deck before getting in the water. Skipping practice? Not an option. When the rest of the team swam doubles, a second practice on the same day, Beth stayed with one.
Coaches added a snorkel to the modified swim paddles and floats in Beth’s equipment bag. The snorkel eliminated the breathing challenges of her forward strokes. During hour and a half workouts, she typically swam about a hundred laps of 25 yards each.
During peak times in her training cycles, workouts hit two hours and 3,000 yards, almost two miles.
“My undergrad was devoted to swimming and health policy,” Beth wrote. “It was a struggle sometimes to be independent and keep up with the work, but I grew a lot during that time. I learned how to make new friends, to manage my disability, and to advocate for myself—not to mention becoming a much stronger swimmer. I like to joke that I spend more time in the pool than I do in class. I love this pool!”
The locker room had a new plastic shower chair Beth finally requested. From a sitting position in her wheelchair, taking off a wet swimsuit in the varsity locker room required patience. I suggested suits one size bigger, but she liked them tight.
Resolve and repetition gradually made dressing in her wheelchair easier, from button down sweaters to the zipper on her skinny jeans.
Next: My New Job!
11/1/2018 09:33:23 am
The key take-away for me, from Beth: "I learned how to make new friends, to manage my disability, and to advocate for myself." Those are the values, skills, and knowledge everyone needs for success. Beth is one of the most outstanding and inspiring examples. What a family! Thank you for sharing YOUR talent, Cindy!!
11/10/2018 09:05:05 pm
Thanks, Esther! It’s been fun to write about Beth’s adventures.
11/1/2018 01:58:56 pm
Disabled life's is one long class. I'm not being cynical here, just honest. There's always something to learn. Again, bravo, Beth.
11/10/2018 09:08:48 pm
Yes, life is a learning process, for some more than others. Thanks for commenting, Jason!
Wow, TWO miles. That's impressive for anyone. I can swim and I enjoy the water, but I can't imagine completing all those laps. Beth must be in TOP shape. I sympathize here with Maria--I did a double in 3 1/2 years and it was a lot of work. Hope she's on a more "human" sked now.
11/10/2018 09:22:09 pm
Thanks, Amy! Yes, Beth enjoys the water now, and no more two mile swim practices. I can’t even really swim. I’m most comfortable floating on my back and waving my arms underwater. I admire real swimmers!
Leave a Reply.
Sign up for my Just Keep Swimming Newsletter by typing your email address in the box. Thanks!