Pop Pop’s Rescue

Pop Pop’s Rescue


There it was—her little ball floating on the side of the pool, gently rocking in the splish splash of the current made by the filter. Al she had to do was kneel on the edge and stretch her two-year-old fingers out to grab it. She reached. She felt the slippery top of the ball. Then, a noiseless drop to the bottom.

I wrote this description, though I wasn’t present when it happened. The scene haunted me for years. We were vacationing at a house with a pool in the Outer Banks. I was inside reading the newspaper. My daughter, her husband, her two children (4 and 5), and her father were at the pool. They were distracted when their son ran for the ice cream truck. Fortunately, my husband remained vigilant.

That incident became the inspiration for the following poem.


Pop-Pop’s Rescue

Without a splash

you slip into the water

like an Olympic diver—

a perfect “10”

With a big splash
Pop-pop barrels into the water

and scoops you off the bottom,

grabbing you by the straps of

your little striped bikini.

Unaware of the drama outside,

I am sitting at the long table upstairs

reading about politics,

worrying about your future.

how quickly, how irrevocably

fate can change our lives.

I see it in the moisture in Pop-pop’s eyes,

and the break in his voice

when he tells me what happened.

We all want to hold you—have to hold you,

have to feel your heart beat and taste the

sweetness of your breath.

When it’s my turn, I sit with you

wrapped in a towel on Uncle Ed’s canvas chair.

“Mom-mom, I was all the way under the water

and I held my breath the whole time!”

You are happily and peacefully unafraid.

Thank you, God, for this precious child,

This Madelyn Elizabeth

Who gets to be three years old.


9 thoughts on “Pop Pop’s Rescue

  1. Everything about this piece is so very wonderful! I remember this story, Diane. How terrified Joe must have been – but his quick response saved Maddie’s life! Crazy how life can change so dramatically, so quickly! Love the use of larger print to organize the poem. Well chosen words to tell the story poem. So much emotion here!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for putting rescue in the title – not sure I could have read it if I wasn’t pretty sure she was going to be ok. How quickly our lives can change…. this is what makes it so hard to let go, trust, and fully embrace life. As a parent it is so hard to not live with the “what ifs” I am about to leave for a week for work – I read your piece and texted my 14 year old to run back home –I needed a quick hug before he left for school and I leave for a week. It is all so precious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the use of the different font to frame this poem. My favorite lines:
    We all want to hold you—have to hold you,
    have to feel your heart beat and taste the
    sweetness of your breath.
    Thanks for this little glimpse into a scary situation with a happy ending!

    Liked by 1 person

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