Life and death of my Dad – part 3

When I was a lifeguard/coach/swimming instructor many, many moons ago, I taught lifesaving skills classes.  One of those skills stayed with me as a life lesson and helped me understand something very cool about my Dad.

A person actively drowning is usually in an all-out panic.  If it becomes necessary to make a swimming rescue, the victim may lunge at the approaching rescuer and cause both of them to drown.  The parry is a technique enabling the rescuer to defend him/herself from a victim’s attack by grabbing the wrist of a lunging victim and using the momentum of the attack to turn the victim around and put him/her into a cross-chest carry.  The cross-chest carry is a very secure way for the rescuer to keep control of the victim while swimming them to safety.

Attack as the means by which the attacker gets rescued – there’s a concept.  Reminds me of the biblical account of Joseph, the guy with the fancy coat whose brothers sold him into slavery only to find years later that he had become Pharoah’s right-hand man in Egypt.  As Joseph loaded up his brothers with grain to get them (and their families and their livestock) through the famine back home, he explained, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  (Genesis 50:20)

I remember my Dad employing his own version of a parry when someone spoke an unkind word or told a joke at another’s expense.  Instead of letting the barb sting the one at whom it was aimed, my Dad would make himself the target and deflect the unkindness away from its intended mark.  I saw him do this numerous times, but never more powerfully than when on behalf of someone who wasn’t quick or skilled at defending him/herself.

A small gesture?  Not to me.  My Dad’s willingness to intercept the arrow shot at someone else and render it harmless was a God-like thing, and I look forward to the day when I can do it as readily and as gracefully as he did.

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