Backyard Oasis Creates Memories of a Lifetime

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a hot summer day and my children had their friends over enjoying the sun and having a ball. Their little five-foot blow-up pool was in our front yard, with the sprinkler and slip-and-slide. As I sat on the veranda watching the kids have fun, I realized how hot it was and said to them, “Okay, mom’s turn.” They all got out of the pool: I had probably six neighbourhood kids and mine sitting in this little blow-up cooling off.

So off I went — shorts, T-shirt and all — And sat right in the middle of that pool. Grass clippings floated around me and all the kids were laughing, seeing me cool off in the very shallow water.

After I got out, I gave the go-ahead for the kids to get back in. They all continued to have fun, elbow-to-elbow, in the little pool. My older son got out and sat beside me in our red chair. “Mom,” he said, “do you think we can get a real pool someday?”

I can still picture his little face staring up at me with such an innocent question. I looked at him and said, “Hmmm … I don’t know. Let’s find out.” Off I went to call my bank to see if we could do it. Once I had the go-ahead for financing, I stood in the backyard and wondered, “Where do I start?” My kids were so excited. The neighbourhood kids, too, since they all saw it as their pool, too!

More than just a dream

I called three companies to get pricing and ideas on what size, what shape and where to put it. I was flying blind — just me, my two boys and my adopted neighbourhood kids all waiting to see our dream become a reality. After meetings with the first two companies, I was overwhelmed and frustrated. I wanted guidance from the professionals to help me decide which pool would be best, but all I got was, “once you figure out where you want it and what size, call us back and we can give you a quote.”

Not the guidance I had hoped for and as the days went on, I could see the kids lose some of their excitement as they saw me standing, lost, in our backyard, trying to figure it out on my own.

Then I had my third meeting. Derek Redden knocked on my door and we went out in the backyard with me expecting the same “once you figure it out — call us back.” But there was Derek with a can of pink spray paint and a personality that lit up the world — including mine and my children’s. Within a few minutes he had me and my excited boys standing on our top deck looking into our backyard while he sprayed imaginary pools — different sizes, round and oval — in different locations. My boys and I looked at it all and, with Derek’s recommendations on what size and location would work best to maximize the rest of our backyard for my dogs and kids to be out running around, we could see the dream of our backyard vacation become more than just a dream!

Treated like family

Derek treated my children like they were his own and they gravitated to him immediately. I was treated like family and before he left I had to give him a big hug to say thanks My older son, who had originally asked if one day we could get a ‘real’ pool, ran out into the street, gathered all his friends and brought them over to show them the “pink ring” pool we were getting!

The process was smooth and incredible, and the guys made my boys feel like they were part of the crew. All my adopted neighbourhood kids came daily to check out the progress, with my boys happily keeping them in the loop as to when opening day would be! The day our “pink ring” pool was finished, the water was crystal clear, the chemicals all in and the heat pump turned on.

Now, try to get two very excited boys and their friends to wait a few days while the pump heated up the water. Not a chance! In fact, I still have the picture of four boys, clad in their underwear, all staring from the top deck down into the ‘real’ pool waiting for me to come out so they could open the gate to the pool area and take the christening plunge! These five boys lined up along the side. I counted 1, 2, 3, and when I said “Go!” they all jumped in at the same time! Near the end of summer on a cool night with the water still ice cold from just being filled, they all came up with the biggest smiles on their faces!

Wow! What a moment for me … to see my boys with the largest smiles, hear their laughs and giggles and knowing that even though they were freezing cold, they were the happiest they had been in a long time!!

Paradise at our back door

That was about eight years ago. And every year on opening day — yes, even before the heat pump has brought the temperature up to my “Mommy-comfortable 84 degrees” — I stand out back and watch the kids with their friends jump on the count of three into the cold water. When the splash subsides and they come up for air, they still carry the biggest smiles on their faces.

Over the years, the ‘underwear’ jumping- in ritual has moved on to real bathing suits as they got older and some of their friends became girls, but the first plunge still happens faithfully, cold water and all. And now for my daughter — whom my boys and I were blessed to have become part of our family with her amazing father, whom I am now blessed to call my husband — the pool and our backyard escape has given us the chance to watch her grow — from an energetic teenager that I remember giggling and laughing with her friends and growing up before our eyes while splashing in the water to a grown-up young woman who comes over to lie by the pool and escape the days of university exams and papers and three jobs and adult responsibilities. To her, it’s a piece of paradise at her back door where she can relax, breathe, enjoy peaceful moments in the sun ‘away’ from it all; where she can jump up from the lounge chair with a huge smile on her face, look at us or her friends and just go for it. Jumping as high as she can, right into the pool, like she was a kid again!

Our backyard oasis has become our little piece of heaven and serenity, and also the children’s extension of our home to spend fun-filled days with their friends, throw ‘really cool’ — as the kids would say — pool parties and, as they have gotten older, a place to hang out, sit and swim and really get to know their friends.

It’s a place to share their days and quiet nights swimming under the lights and I still love hearing the laughter as I watch the pool filled with teenagers and young adults now, with their first crushes, lifelong friends, and new friends, too. It’s the type of laughter you can only experience when you jump in a pool and still feel like a kid, even when you’re all grown up.

Derek and the rest of the R&R family have become like family to me and my husband and our children. When I call, they recognize my voice. When we need something, they are always there. And just like what happened when we opened our pool this year — I go out back and am greeted with a huge hug from Derek, who still loves to be out in the sun and fresh air helping his “extended” family open up their memory-making pools for the year. It was just like that same hug years ago when I knew we were in good hands while we made our ‘pink ring’ pool a place for many years of laughter, serenity and lifelong memories. Those moments are what life is all about!