She was born a Pisces, the fish sign. It fit her, for she loved the water. When her family moved to Garden Grove, California, they had to buy a house with a pool. She swam in it everyday, and her husband made sure it was always clean, the water always pearl blue. After a swim, she would smoke a cigarette.
She lived in Florida for a while, and when I was a baby, she brought me to the beach to show me the ocean and the white sands. She liked Florida, but she missed her family, so they moved back. They managed an apartment building in Walnut Creek, and of course it had a pool.
There she showed me the differences between the shallow end and the deep end. "Until you learn how to swim, don't go in the deep end unless an adult is with you." I promised her I wouldn't. The next year we moved to a house with no pool. There was a park pool nearby, and she signed me up for swimming lessons.
Every summer day, she swam in that pool during lap time. She wore a black swimsuit, and she was beautiful, tanned. She wore a white swim cap. She looked younger than her age.
She didn't go swimming the summer of 1980. She was in a hospital room that had a beautiful view of Mount Diablo. My father got time off work and he took me swimming every morning in the park pool, then my mother would pick me up and we would go visit her. I would tell her about the pool, how much I missed her. I never asked when are you coming home? We all knew she wasn't going to leave the hospital alive.
July 22nd, 1980: my mother woke me up. "We have to go to the hospital now." It was three thirty in the morning. I knew what was happening, yet I didn't know. I waited in a dark room in John Muir hospital. I prayed that in Heaven, there would be a pool, or a ocean so she could swim.
She's been gone thirty years. Every July, I sometimes cry without knowing why I'm crying, but I do know why. I still miss Thora Christina Peterson Cobb, the woman who taught me how to swim, the grandmother I adored.
Her great-grandson was born March 2nd, 2004. Another Fish. He loves to swim.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries