Lifeguard on Duty

I had resolved to “make her take responsibility for her own life”, but watching her struggle against the bonds of her own limitations is more than I can bear.  “She’ll eventually find THE THING that will drive her past her difficulties,” said doctors and therapists.  Fuck that.  I looked at my own 52 years.  How long did it take for me to push?  And I don’t even have a diagnosed learning disability!  Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy. I can’t let her carry her young bones alone… yet.  I’m her father, damn it!  Where do I draw the line between “sink or swim” and “let daddy hold you until you can float and stay above water on your own”? I keep moving my arms away, but those ossified weights just keep pulling her under. The Lifeguard is still on duty.

I’ve discovered a fun new prompt that is NOT poetry, for the most part (and there was much rejoicing).

Here are the rules, courtesy of

Write a story of 144 words or less (not including the title). The story must have a beginning and an end, and should not be poetry. Sounds easy enough right? Here’s the twist: You must use the poetry line I have given you within your story. You may alter the punctuation, but you must use the line in its entirety.

Today, I have chosen the following line taken from Spring Azures from the book Wild Geese by Mary Oliver:

‘Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,’


  1. Ben, from the moment they are born you are a lifeguard and I don’t think it ever ends. I understand “learning disability” defined through school assessment and not sure if that’s what she is assessed as, but if it is there is nothing wrong with her intelligence it is that her performance doesn’t match her potential. If she isn’t doing anything that is life threatening, you might give her a chance to develop her potential without intervening… Just a comment based on your story and I don’t know you or her so take it with a grain of salt, ok? Welcome to dVerse!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your beautifully composed prose tugged at my heartstrings …. I have been on lifeguard duty for my son who is 59 throughout his life. He is high functioning, holds a supermarket job and is the most spectacular man I have ever had the privilege of knowing. We almost lost him in 2018 from sepsis, thankfully he survived. Oh, he is also my house mate! Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I resonate with the struggle. I have lived it. And often what makes it worse is that spouse has a different understanding of how much “lifeguard” is still necessary. But the reality is that “too much lifeguard WILL cause delay. In Carole’s family an uncle (the 12th of 12 children) was born with downs syndrome. He lived with and was cared for by his mother. He was so dependent the nursing home his mother eventually went to made an exception and they shared a room together. When she died at 96 the uncle went into a group home. Contrary to expectations he began to blossom. Turned out he was able to do more than anyone thought possible. He still had serious limitations, but also began to move past things previously though to be a limitation. But in the here and now, making that decision is no easy task.


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