Summer Life Saving

I hadn’t planned on going to my niece’s wedding. She was getting married in Orlando last week and had planned a large party/reception for friends and family in Illinois in early July. In honor of her grandparents (my parents) who had been married 65 years, she had decided to get married on their wedding anniversary, June 10.

36192967 - photos of wedding rings on sand at beach

But when I received my niece’s email, asking friends and family to send or bring a rock to the wedding, I knew I had to go. You see, my mom LOVED rocks. She once chased a Caterpillar D10

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 1.40.51 PM

working on road construction through a field on her little John Deere

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 1.42.37 PM

to ask the driver if he would push a mountain of a boulder onto the farm ground. He did.

My niece learned to love rocks—well, that might be a stretch—she learned to wash the landscape rocks that surrounded my parents’ house. My mother believed that the landscape should be washed every spring, and the grandchildren (once the kids were grown and gone) were just the people to help her do it. So my niece learned to LOVE washing rocks.

It was natural that she would want rocks for her wedding. They’re a symbol of a strong foundation, right?

I got the email and immediately knew I had to TAKE the rocks to Florida, not ship them. We boated over to Angel Island, scavenged one large 10-pounder, one fist-sized, and a handful of smaller green stones called serpentine. Perfect! I would skimp on clothes and carry these in my luggage.

57638367 - macro shooting of natural mineral stone - rock of chrysotile (green asbestos, serpentine asbestos, white asbestos) isolated on white background

Yes, the TSA left their calling card in my suitcase. They must still be shaking their heads, wondering why anyone would cart around a bunch of rocks.

Anyway, I delivered those rocks and myself to Orlando four days later. The ceremony was quite moving, with my nephew telling his rock story during the ceremony. A few months earlier, he had been shopping for a First Communion gift for a family member and saw a pile of rocks at the store. One read something along the lines of “Keep Calm and Carry On.” The saying reminded him of his grandfather’s calmness and how he dealt with stress. The second rock he picked up read “This Too Shall Pass,” his grandmother’s favorite saying. He decided those two rocks were meant for him, and he bought them along with a communion gift.

Then a couple of months later, he gets this request from his sister to bring rocks to her wedding on a date that honors their grandparents. So instead of keeping those rocks for himself as mementos of his grandparents, he gave them to his sister. (Yes, he is a fantastic guy!)

Really, those two rocks were my parents’ way of sneaking into the wedding.

Now, fast forward a couple of hours after we all head out to the hotel pool complex.


We’re settling in, when my sister-in-law passes by a couple of people shaking the arms of a little girl lying on the pool deck. They had just pulled her from the water, and she’s not responsive.

Sooo, my sister-in-law grabs my niece and nephew (her kids) who happen to be physician’s assistants. They find no pulse and begin lifesaving techniques that include an inverted heimlich with the girl’s head below her waist. My nephew tries to activate the little girl’s gag reflex by sticking his finger down her throat. (Someone calls 911. Concerned bystanders suggest laying her flat. NO! Don’t do that! They also suggest giving her a glass of water. REALLY??) Still no response, but the heimlich is pumping lots of water out of her. My nephew tries again and again until he gets a gag from her and she begins to vomit water and food. Another few seconds of heimlich with her head down and she’s still vomiting but begins to cry. Success!!

44988042 - holiday fireworks on dark background. vector illustration

In honor of the wonderful world of Disney

Paramedics arrive, give her oxygen, and prep her for heading to the hospital, where she will stay for observation.

Two days later, I leave for home and get a text with a photo of my niece and nephew “meeting” the little girl and her babydoll at the hotel after she was released from the hospital. I’m not going to show it here because I don’t have a release from her parents, but suffice to say, I cried when I saw all three of them together and smiling.

Soooo, everyone, it’s summer swimming pool season. Please be vigilant. This was one of two bright spots (wedding, too!) in a horrific week for Orlando. Watch those swimmers, and if they don’t know how to swim, keep them in floaties whenever they’re near the pool. The one shown below snaps behind the child’s back, so they can’t take it off themselves. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 2.20.29 PM

Remember, a child slips below the surface without making noise. Be watchful, and listen for silence.

35 thoughts on “Summer Life Saving

  1. S.K. Nicholls says:

    I’m glad you did this for her. When I first moved to Florida, I couldn’t find a rock to throw at my neighbor when I need one. We don’t have rocks here unless they’re imported.

      • Lady Fancifull says:

        Jilanne, that is powerful, a needed reminder of how we can make powerful, positive difference to the world. Much needed, as an antidote to the evidence of hatred and destruction. It’s also hugely cheering to hear about the wonderful eccentricities (aren’t we all!) of people. Rock on!

          • Lady Fancifull says:

            And yes to artistic endeavours, which often provide both of the above……..had a couple of days of musical/dance events which I attended, and, in our current tendency to inward looking in the UK, fear and distrust of ‘the other’ etc, I was particularly moved by music and dance from pan-European, Indian and Arabic origins, as well as from this country. Music such a language of connection! It all made me feel HUMAN and connected to a wider humanity.

          • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

            I think the arts are a fantastic way to connect across cultures, one reason why I think children should receive an arts as well as “academic” education. Appreciation of other cultures across the board. Bridges not walls. Yes!

  2. Britt Skrabanek says:

    Eeek! So scary about the little girl. I had a close call when I was a kid. I wasn’t the best swimmer until I took lessons, because I was determined to get over my fear. I was inching along the edge of the pool and I lost my grip, then started thrashing and gulping down tons of water. My dad was asleep in the pool chair and there was nobody else there. I managed to find the edge of the pool again and hauled myself up. I marched over to my dad and told him what happened, then demanded swimming lessons! 😉

  3. FictionFan says:

    So fortunate that your niece and nephew were there! And good to hear a happy ending for a change after the stories that have been dominating the news for the last couple of weeks. 🙂

  4. Letizia says:

    I’m so glad the story had a happy ending. Goodness, how frightening.

    I love the fact that the rock tradition has carried on through the generations. I bet your mom would have loved that. The TSA agents must have been shaking their heads, wondering what all those rocks were about.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Unlike other stories last week in the land of Disney, these two stories did, thankfully, have a happy ending. And I’ve very glad the TSA agents didn’t confiscate my rocks. 😀

  5. Mrs. P says:

    Wow…you were in Orlando and didn’t tell me???

    Okay, after reading the story…you get a pass. What a week!

    Love the rock story and family connection!

    So glad that little girl was saved, she was lucky to have you all there.

    Twice I have pulled children from pools when they got into trouble and the parents didn’t notice. Once at a swim class of all places. One of the kids was jumping up and down but was moving toward the sloped part of the pool. His mother was there conversing with others and didn’t see what was happening. I watched him closely and when it got to the point where his head didn’t come above water I jumped in, fully clothed and pulled him to shallow water. Since the others weren’t paying attention, they all looked at me like I was crazy, never even thanked me.

    The second time was at a large 4th of July party, this time I was wearing a suit…whew! A young toddler was in a floating ring which had drifted into the deep end. The lifeguard didn’t notice and the mom was nowhere to be seen when the baby slipped out of the flotation device. Again, I was watching and pulled the baby out before there was any serious trouble.

    Your warnings are good advice. I would include that you should always watch your children in water. Even in the seemingly safest environments, things could go wrong…and sometimes there are no second chances.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Your advice is spot on. I apologize for not being in touch. I have to say that it wasn’t what you would call a “relaxing” vacation. A tornado of relatives and activity is more like it. From the minute I hit the ground to my farewell at the airport, the time was filled with family fun (think 20 relatives, including eight teens, tweens, and younger). I was exhausted when I returned. Next time when it’s less chaotic.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I know that one of the things I learned was that you have to get the water out before you can get the air in. They didn’t teach us that when I learned CPR. It makes sense, but sometimes we don’t do what makes sense, especially when we’re panicking.

  6. Ste J says:

    Rocks are a wonderful thing, not only are they nature but wonderful gifts and a feeling of history in one’s hands. These days we all need to keep an eye out for each other, now more than ever.

  7. roughwighting says:

    What an amazing post! I love the ‘rock’ idea – a beautiful way to remember and truly memorialize your grandparents in ongoing love and family togetherness. A brilliant idea. When my guy and I reached our 25th anniversary, good friends gave us a lovely gift: a large rock carved with two numbers: 2 5. We keep this rock by our front door. It’s a solid, weighty reminder of love and commitment. Your family ROCKS, Jilianne, even so far as saving a little girl’s life.

Please feed the chickens...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.