Today at the pool I shared the 50 yd lane with an older woman ( we chatted later in the locker room and she's 72) She wasn't really swimming, more just floating around working her way down the lane. Sometimes she'd wander into my side of the lane and I'd have to look up every so often to be sure we didn't collide. I was annoyed at first and wished she'd hurry up and go, so I could stay in this particular lane as it was nearest the wall (the slow lane) but I reminded myself that it wasn't long ago that I couldn't swim in a straight line and I still can't during the backstroke.
She wasn't a particulary good swimmer nor was she self conscious about it. She was simply enjoying the freedom of movement in the water. I suddenly felt ashamed for wishing her to go and was struck by her grace and beauty. I was moved by her spirit and her courage to take her place in the 50 yd lane. At one point she was more than halfway down the lane and I caught up with her and we ended up at the same end of the pool and she looked over at me and in her sweet Indian accent said 'You are very fast" I just smiled and shook my head saying "No, I'm not"
Later in the locker room I asked her if she swam there often and she said "Oh yes, everyday!" Then she explained that her doctor recommended it when she started to have back trouble and that it's taken all her pain away. She was so happy and grateful to be able to find relief. I went to work with a better appreciation for the old folks I work with. So often the seniors I work with are so sick and dibilitated it's hard to see them any other way. It was good to spend a little time with that woman at the pool today she reminded me that we have options.