Mother and Mama Sue were right!

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Last night when I said goodnight to my mother, I picked up her weekly Ashland City Times newspaper to put it in the recycling. The large headline, “Living for Levi,” caught my eye and I read the long article. As I read, I thought about how much I wanted to share the information with my children for their sakes and for our grandchildren. Then I realized that I should share it with you, too.

The article told the heartbreaking story of a family who lost one of their children a year ago. Three-year-old Levi drowned in a resort pool while they were on vacation. The story was mainly from the perspective of Levi’s mama. She explained how they paid tribute to their son on the one-year anniversary of losing him: They got out of bed; they held their daughters, one of whom is a newborn; and they went through their day intentionally.

This is what they have been doing all year. They have been figuring out how to get out of bed. They have chosen to live. And they have also chosen to raise awareness about drowning by educating pediatricians and by encouraging pediatricians to educate parents.

From childhood, my mother and my daddy’s mama (who was Mama Sue to me) taught me a healthy fear of water. To them water was a place to have a good time, but it was a very serious business. Drowning was a real possibility, so you had better be careful. Add to that the fun animated, but pointed, commercials about swimming safety that we saw on television, and I was convinced.

The caption for this Library of Congress photograph is “Homemade swimming pool for steelworkers’ children, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” July, 1938.

Levi’s mama and daddy were not negligent parents. Their son wore either a life jacket or puddle jumpers every time he was around water during that vacation. To his parents’ horror, they learned that it is times when children are not swimming that can be the most dangerous.

Levi’s father is a physician. His family was on vacation with five other families, including 12 parents and 17 children. All of the dads were physicians.

One evening the families were having dinner together. While the children watched “America’s Funniest Videos” on television and the parents cleaned up, Levi slipped out of the condo. A few minutes later, his mama looked out from the balcony and saw her son face down in the pool.

One of the projects Levi’s parents began to help parents is a tag system. They encourage parents to wear tags when their children are around water. When you are wearing a tag, that means you are the one who is watching the children.

It is easy to point a finger at Levi’s parents and say, “You should have been watching!” But haven’t you been with a group of friends or relatives before and suddenly asked, “Where is _________ (Jackson or Katie or Sammie or Madison)?”

I know I have. You know that mama habit of counting the kids to make sure you haven’t lost one? Well, now, I count grandchildren. No one means to be negligent. We all know how fast kids can slip away.

One shocking fact in the article was that most drownings of children happen when their parents believe they are playing away from the pool! Let’s read that fact again! Most drownings of children happen when their parents believe they are playing away from the pool!

Levi’s parents believe that pediatricians should be educating parents about drowning. When I read the article, I thought that I could help a bit by educating you mamas who read these daily posts. It’s not a pleasant topic, but I felt compelled. In fact I wrote this post last night after I had already written another post for today. I’m saving that one for next week. I couldn’t go to bed without sharing this information with you.

So, as summer continues for another few weeks and then winds down, please be careful. Take this warning from this mama who picked up my mama’s hometown paper last night. Remember: Mother and Mama Sue were right!

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child,
think like a child, reason like a child;
when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face;
now I know in part, but then I will know fully
just as I also have been fully known.
But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but
the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:11

The article I referenced for this post was “Living for Levi,” written by Jessica Bliss and published in The Ashland City Times, Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

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  1. This is such an important issue! My first two babies were born in Florida and during the prenatal class, they spent a lot of time talking about drowning prevention. So I am long familiar with the “watcher wears a bracelet” idea. It is all too easy to assume someone else is watching the kids.
    Another thing I learned later from a Reader’s Digest story is that drowning is SILENT. So even if you are “watching” the kids in the pool, you really have to watch and cannot assume that you will hear if something goes wrong.
    There are also very sad stories about children going outside and drowning in the pool while their mothers are taking a nap!
    Thank you for posting about this. Everyone can always use a reminder about water safety.

  2. I have a five year old boy who has slipped away from me quite a few times while I was talking to someone. I have just resigned myself to being antisocial until he gets older. It would be a good idea for hotels and resorts to position their front desk in view of the pool. Someone is always there and could spot small children wandering in. Or have young ones always wear their puddle jumpers while awake. My heart breaks for Levi’s family.

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