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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Swimming Alone - Happened Sometime in 1974

Our family lived in Winnipeg for two years from 1973 to the end of 1974. At the end of 1974, we moved to Kelowna, BC where dad got a job teaching at Okanagan College. I think this move coincided with the failure of Transair, but I am not entirely sure.  The story I’m about to tell is the incident that prompted the move from the house in Winnipeg, or so I’m told.

Being insatiably curious and hyperactive, I kept to my own schedule, which, needless to say, was completely different from the remaining members of my family.  Usually, I would be up hours before everyone else and exploring the many nooks and crannies of the house and all the interesting things it had to offer, and there were so many things! Mom and dad had decided just a few weeks earlier to re-model the kitchen. To prepare for the renovation, they had just ordered custom kitchen cabinets of maple, back in the days before affordable Ikea kitchens. These cabinets had been delivered and were sitting in the rec room that was in the basement in preparation for their eventual installation. 

One evening I was in the bathroom with my dad taking my bath and getting ready for bed. As I was drying off and getting into my pajamas, a curious sight caught my eye: a little shiny metal tap just below the toilet. “Daddy, what is that?”, I asked. “That is a dangerous thing that we do not touch.” He said. “Why?” I asked. “Because bad things will happen.” was his full answer.  Now this was one aspect of the grown-ups around me that just frustrated me to no end – they didn’t make any sense. Obviously the tap was there for a reason and I had, JUST HAD to know what that was. It simply didn’t make sense to me that someone would build this house and put in a tap that no one could touch. So I decided that the next time I was alone in the bathroom, I was going to turn it to see what happened.

So the following Saturday morning, I woke up early and headed down to the basement and went into the small bathroom that was right next to the rec room. I walked up to the toilet and studied the tap carefully. I turned it counter- clockwise as far as it would go.  Nothing happened, which completely surprised me, because dad had said something bad would happen. I had to go, so I used the toilet quickly and then flushed. By now, I had forgotten about the tap, and walked away to go explore the kitchen cabinets. Little did I know that the toilet mechanism had become stuck and the water kept on flowing into the tank without stopping. As the tank overflowed, the water began to spill over onto the floor and within what must have been just a few minutes, the bathroom floor was covered. As the water began continued to flow, it began spreading from the bathroom into the hall and then finally reached the rec room, soaking the floor and slowly seeping into the new kitchen cabinets - thousands of 1974 dollars worth of cabinets.

This was another new experience for me as I normally had to go to the park with my parents to wade in a pool. This was just great! I could wade in the water to my hearts content while my parents slept upstairs. I sat in the gradually rising flood waters, splashing about happily. I particularly liked the fact that I didn’t have to wear those awful water wings while played.  Eventually I got bored and decided it was time for mom and dad to get up.

So I headed upstairs to mom and dad’s bedroom. When I got there I headed over to mom’s side of the bed and gently roused her. She stirred and with a gentle moan and stretch, she opened her eyes and got the shock of her life. “Why are you all wet Chrissy?? What have you been doing?” she asked puzzled. “I’ve been swimming mommy.”. “It’s too early for you to be going to the park darling, and you know you aren’t supposed to go there without your brother.” she said. “I wasn’t at the park mommy. I was in the basement!!” I exclaimed with great excitement, a huge grin escaping from my face. Her jaw just dropped and then within a few seconds she looked like she was going to cry.“Mommy, mommy, what’s wrong?”.


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