Swimming Pools

What a weekend! A Bank Holiday WITH sunshine? I mean, Britain does not usually deliver unexpected heatwaves, particularly on an August Bank Holiday so it was lovely that the sun was shining on the weekend we happened to go away. Meeting as a whole family unit is complex as on one side there are two kids to cater for and on the other side is a Londoner with a ridiculously busy social life. However, my middle brother turned 30 in January and for his present we managed to get him a drive in the iconic Shelby Mustang GT500 a.k.a ‘Eleanor’ from Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000, not 1974). We booked it for this weekend and tadah!, together we were for the first time since Pa passed away.

Ma treated us all to a stay in a Hilton just outside Oxford which was peaceful being tucked away at the back of a service station off the M4. The hotel came equipped with gorgeous spacious rooms, a hearty breakfast buffet including pancake machine and a swimming pool, perfection to throw my nephews in and teach them how to swim in this heat. The sauna was a great place to practise a little mindfulness whilst a quaint courtyard was heavenly to bask in the late summer nights that quickly blended into darkness which prompted us to lounge in the relaxing bar area. And the complimentary cookies at check in were to die for.

Whilst of course it was lovely to have the clan together, there also felt a huge void with Dad not being there. The whole point of this weekend was for us all to come together, to celebrate my brother’s 30th doing something he loved and with my Dad being present. There were many times I had to catch myself from wanting to go and check on Pa and it felt odd to pull into a car park without thinking of prepping the oxygen flasks, the wheelchair and ensuring everything was in place to make him comfortable. In essence there was a lot of quiet from my end and I guess, a lot of reflection.

But it’s inspired me. It’s given me time to think on what exactly I want to bring to the community of support for those dealing with lung diseases including IPF. As I was swimming it made me think of how those needing oxygen therapy struggle to do something so simple and satisfying as nipping down to their local leisure centre and dipping their toes in the water. One of the final things my Pa loved to do was to sit with his hands in warm water and swirl his fingers through the bubbles, he felt so calm and collected after a difficult task of coming to wake in the morning. So, although perhaps challenging to get a person on oxygen into a pool, it isn’t impossible, which means it’s achievable and will be of great psychological benefit for a bit of hydrotherapy. And with that being said I’m sure there are many more tasks that those on oxygen therapy or those struggling with their mobility from the impact of lung disease will want to accomplish, which means as a community we need to come together to help them pull off these goals.

Recent events have also been a wake up call in that I no longer want to waste my time flogging a dead horse and trying to please or hold on to people that don’t wish to want to try to be around. I want to value the time I have by giving and assisting those who need, want and deserve my time and attention. Whilst a difficult truth to face it is a necessary one to move forward, to prioritise my own life and to find worth in living each day. I have lungs, I can breathe unaided and I am not facing death that I know of. As Dr Seuss famously said, “you have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”




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