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My special Friend Gordon

The summer after I turned 13, my mother enrolled me in a swimming class.  This program was for the entire summer, starting after the 4th of July until the last week of August.  This swimming program was how I met a very special friend, Gordon.

Gordon didn't live in my town, but in the next town over, about 8 miles from me.  Every summer he would come to our town to stay with his grandparents.  We became fast friends, and that friendship would last for three summers.  Not only did we go swimming, but we spent many afternoons in the soda shop uptown, or sitting under the maple tree in our yard, on  his grandparents front porch.  Gordon was not my "boyfriend", he was just a very special friend.  We could, and did, talk about everything, from our dreams for the future, to our favorite movie stars, and life in general.

Then one day, the summer after I turned 15, we were at our swimming program.  I was never a very good swimmer and was always kind of nervous around water.  All I could manage was the dog paddle  A swimmer I was not.  All the rest of the kids had been swimming back and fourth toe the float but I always stayed close to shore.  I guess the instructor felt sorry for me, because he told me I could swim out there if I wanted to.  I thought about it, and since I was the only one left in the shallow area, decided I would fo for it.  Big mistake.  I got out there all right, though the trip seemed endless.  Gordon and the rest of them were sitting on the float, just talking and having fun.  By the time I got there, some of them were ready to start back.  Pretty soon, only four of us were left sitting there, so we decided we should swim back.  Things did not go well for me, and half way back to the shore I became very tired.  So tired, I realized I was in trouble.  One of my girlfriends was right next to me, so I told her I couldn't make it back.  Sure enough, I went under, came back up, went under again, came back up again.  The third time I went under, and to this day I can remember exactly how it was.  Quiet, soft, and green.  Next thing I remember, I was laying on the beach with Gordon standing over me and the rest of the kids all huddled together, scared out of their minds.  My girlfriend had realized I was in trouble and called for help, and dear Gordon, bless his heart, came to save my life.  He told me that I fought and fought because I was so scared, and he went under once himself, but brave young man that he was, managed to get me under control and haul me to shore.  He didn't think it was a big deal, but I did and forever more he was a hero in my eyes. Needless to say neither of us ever went to another swimming lesson again.  We finished our summer sitting under the maple tree or on the back porch, talking and dreaming about life.  When we turned 16, we spent our last summer together.  He gave me a pretty little heart shaped necklace, with a garnet, my birthstone, and I was so thrilled.  The end of summer came and we went back to school and somehow lost touch.  I never saw him again.  One day in 1990 I picked up our local newspaper and saw Gordon's death notice.. Memories of our three wonderful summers together flooded my mind.  Since it was a private service, all I could do was send his daughters a note.  I told them of our wonderful friendship and how he had saved my life. They sent me a lovely letter, thanking me for telling  my story as he never mentioned it to them. I have the letter, and I have the necklace, a wonderful treasure from a wonderful friend.

I will always be grateful for the friendship of this very special friend, and I will never forget him and the three wonderful summers we spent together.  May God bless you, my wonderful friend Gordon.

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