The Sand Trap
The Sand Trap
By Lori La Bey
I grabbed my five iron from my golf bag, turned, and walked toward my ball. The smell of fresh-cut grass filled my nostrils. The deep, rich, green grass, providing stark contrast as it nestled against the bleached white sand, looked beautiful, yet that view was nothing as compared to what my eyes saw next.
My mother, a large woman in her sixties, with short, salt-and-pepper, curly hair, lay on her belly in the sand trap. Her big arms stretched over her head. Each finger towered to the knuckles with diamond rings, one on top of the other, ending in a tip of perfectly applied red polish. Her cupped hands trapped the sand as she pulled her arms down and around, in perfect breaststroke form.
I watched in amazement. The sand swooshed loudly in my ears. I could hear each grain of sand scraping against another as she swam. Her head turned sideways as she took in a breath of air, and then she rotated her head back into the sand, slightly raised to adjust for the texture. The confidence and calmness on my mother’s face shined like a beacon of light on a pitch-black summer evening. She swam in the warm sand to safety. My mind flashed back about twenty years, remembering that my mother had always been a great swimmer, and I saw that her old skills as a lifeguard were still strong and intact.
I thought to myself, “My God, how are we going to get her out of there? She really thinks she is in the water.” Sadness hit me for a brief moment, and then the humor of the situation touched my heart like no other time in my life. I smiled and laughed as I watched her in amazement. My mother’s child-like state of mind was rescuing her. She felt safe and in control in this imagined place, in the water. My mother’s Alzheimer’s disease has left her more focused and purposeful and more peaceful than ever. The faith, belief, and power that she appeared to hold in this moment was incredible.
“Mom, can I help you up?” I asked as I continued to watch. She abruptly stopped swimming. Her face looked confused as I brought her back to reality. We were golfing. She had fallen in a sand trap. “Are you okay? Let me help you up,” I said in a soft voice accompanied by a warm, friendly smile. She seemed to connect with both immediately and smiled back at me. “Okay, Lori. That would be good.” Then she burst into laughter, not just a giggle but a hard solid belly laugh. Her eyes were joyful yet glistened with tears, and as she lay on her stomach in the bleached grains of sand, my mother seemed to realize for just a second how comical life can be.