The best job I’ve ever had was working at the Verona Community Pool during my high school and college summer breaks. Just imagine being out in the sun all day at a beautiful, Olympic-size swimming pool, socializing with pretty much everyone in town, swimming whenever you want, and getting the leftover, salty French fries from the concession stand for free just before closing. If that’s not convincing enough, the pay was good, and we could always make extra money giving private swimming lessons or working pool parties. The VCP perks certainly were good, but what made it the best was the people. At Verona Pool I was privileged to work with a lot of great people, many of whom I likely never would have known more than by name had it not been for that job. My VCP friends were the best of the best.
Though I had solid friendships that have stood the test of time, I never considered myself a popular kid in high school, or college for that matter. I was bookish, preferring to read the encyclopedia over sports or hanging out with friends, and I was deathly afraid of getting in trouble, so I didn’t smoke or drink or do any of the fun and crazy things that kids do that sometimes get them in trouble. No one would ever have confused me for one of the “cool kids” in high school. But there was something about working at Verona Pool that seemed to break down the social cliques that are so typical of that age. We had cool kids and nerdy kids, loud kids and quiet kids, crazy kids and sensible kids. We had kids who smoked and drank and did all of the fun and crazy things that kids do, and we had me. You name it, we had them all – and we were friends. With the mythical boundaries removed at VCP, I had the opportunity to share a lot of laughs and good times with some amazing people who otherwise might never have become my friends.
I’ve been reminiscing a lot about my Verona Pool days of late because I recently learned that a member of the VCP family has died. Roseann was a lifeguard at the pool during the last few years of my tenure there. I haven’t seen or been in contact with her for more than 20 years, but I remember her like it was yesterday and still consider her a good friend. A star athlete in high school (definitely not my crowd), Roseann was naturally a strong swimmer and a great lifeguard. More importantly, Roseann was a wonderful person and a lot of fun to be around. She had a mischievous smile that usually foreshadowed some practical joke that awaited her next victim (often me), and her laugh was infectious. She had a wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humor, though she was known to punish perpetrators of practical jokes against her (often me) with a swift punch in the arm. Roseann was one of our most popular swim instructors, so it was no surprise when I learned that she had become a kindergarten teacher, and a great one at that. Roseann was one of those people you just wanted, no, needed to be around.
The many condolences and tributes that are being posted about Roseann remind me that people like Roseann are gifts from God. They keep us smiling and laughing during our tough times and even during theirs. They are beacons of God’s light in our lives long after we lose contact with them, and even after they have departed this world for the eternal glory they have undoubtedly earned. Working at Verona Pool opened me to many opportunities over the years to meet great people, like Roseann, who have brought God’s light into my life in their own special ways. I am especially blessed to call these wonderful people my friends. May God bless you, and may God bless Roseann. You are the best of the best.
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon her. Amen