Two stories of death: one near miss, the other not.
Two stories of death: one near miss, the other not.
Showing off.
Showing off.

I've been dying to tell you this

Sometimes in summer, the assorted cousins would all meet up at my Aunt Connie and Uncle Charles’ house in Libertyville, Ill., for a bit of young kids hell raising and a possible dip in the neighbors pool.

I remember this particular day as being very hot and sticky, so my cousin Chris and I couldn't wait to splash around in the shallow end of this large in-ground pool. Our parents were having a good laugh, a few Meister Brau's and getting the grill ready, so we went to the pool with older cousins Michael, who was Chris's brother, and Buddy who was Connie and Charles’ son. (Buddy, by the way, would also play drums and had a Midwest regional hit single with Shotgun, by his group "The Bondsmen" in 1967.) To the pool …

Chris and I hit the shallow end and proceeded to horse around. This pool was beautiful and had three different areas of depth based on a downward slope design of the pool floor from very shallow to deepest. As long as Chris and I stayed in the safe area and didn't go into the middle and toward the deep end, we would be fine. In later years, I would scuba dive, but at this time, I couldn't swim and neither could Chris.

The floor of the pool was a textured sand treatment that was easy on the feet, but still gritty enough for traction. I was bouncing up and down, close to the pool wall, when I slipped and felt myself losing balance while getting a face full of water that made me choke almost immediately. It was so sudden that it was cartoon like, but with a vicious aqua slap like this, I was in serious summer danger. I was in the deep end.

I was confused now, and I was trying to get to a safer depth, but I was starting to panic and I was taking on water like a doomed submarine. I could feel my insides fill with fear and I started to wonder what the calm was that I was also feeling. The quiet that you feel underwater is a very inviting silent world, but I didn't want to join that world.

Silence. I was almost filled with water and I was freeing my …

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