My 70-year-old father-in-law jumped in the water first. But he couldn’t get to my daughter. His arms flailed, tangled in the camera strap around his neck.
“Mommy!” three-year-old Jinny cried, her eyes wide with panic. She’d started swim lessons at 18 months and did fine in shallow water, but she’d drifted into the deep end of the motel pool.
Jinny reached frantically for me. She was in the middle of the pool, too far for me to pull her to safety from the deck. Before I could do a thing, she went under.
I looked around, desperate. My husband, Bob, had gone back to our room to get something. No lifeguard on duty. No one else was close to the pool. Just me. And I couldn’t swim. I was terrified of the water.
Some college boys were horsing around on the far side of the deck. “Help us! Please!” I shouted. They didn’t even look my way. They were laughing too loud to hear me.
I couldn’t wait any longer. I wasn’t going to watch my daughter drown. I leaped into the pool. All I could get out before the water went over my head and swallowed me was one word: “God!”
I couldn’t see a thing with water in my eyes. I stretched out my arms. I felt a tiny foot against my palm. Jinny! I got my hands on her back to try to push her to the surface. At that second, I sensed something pushing against my own back. The pressure of two large, strong hands propelling us to the edge of the pool.
The next instant, I was standing on the deck by the deep end, with Jinny in my arms. We didn’t climb any steps or ladder to get out. It was as if we were lifted right out of the water and gently set on dry ground, safe.
A blur flew by me. Bob. He dove in the deep end and pulled his dad out of the pool. My father-in-law coughed and sputtered. Then he caught sight of Jinny and me.
“You’re okay,” he said, wonderingly. “Was there a lifeguard?”
“Yes,” I said, catching my breath. One we never saw and never will see on this earth.