ParkTales back to the swimming pool

ParkTales

Near empty swimming pool blamed on tomatoes and grapes

Disabled woman helped with grace that protects her dignity

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspective proudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.

After my adventures at the lake and the final push on the election front, I returned to my weekly swimming. 

I had neglected my body and the swimming was a welcome relief not only for my body but for my mind. 

I noticed there was not many people in the swimming pool and mentioned it to one of the swimmers.
 
The reply, "Oh the women are canning tomatoes and sauce, and the men are preparing the wine".
 
The city pool is in a neighbourhood of mainly Portuguese and of course this is the season.
 
I recall living with a Portuguese family when I first came to Toronto and sure enough they had a wine barrel in the basement and I enjoyed watching them prepare the wine not to mention drinking it. 
 
In the pool I got into a conversation with one of the swimmers — he faithfully brings his mother, who had had a stroke, to swim and helps her to exercise in the pool.
 
We caught up on topics like the latest Mayor Rob Ford's cuts, the demonstrations in New York on Wall Street protesting corporate greed. 
 
As he swam off after our conversation I said, "This is a sign of the decay of capitalism."
 
He swam a few strokes and turned back. He said with a thoughtful smile, "that is a very interesting statement you just made".
 
In the change room our determined seniors were getting dressed.  
 
I said, "This is the hardest part of the swim, getting dressed."  Everyone laughed as they were stretching to do up their bras, bending over to put on their stockings and shoes.
 
But most of all I was so touched by the help given to the mother of my friend in the pool. The mother who had had a stroke and was recovering by these sessions in the pool.
 
The women helped her dress in such an unassuming way. Allowing her to keep her dignity.
 
It reminded me of the song, People Who Need People Are the Luckiest People in the World.
 
My Parkdale

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