The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my father, Mike Rebert in our home in Allentown, Pa. Throughout the interview, he laughed and shook his head while he relived the crazy memories from his spring break in college. My dad shared this story with me because he claimed that it was the most scared he’s ever been in his life. Although this experience didn’t keep them from going back into the water later in their trip, it did teach Mike to be a lot more cautious when swimming in choppy water. It also taught him a lesson about following rules when it comes to safety in the ocean - if he had died that day, I never would have been born!

Mike Rebert was in Cancun with his friends during Spring Break of his senior year of college. He strolled onto the beach that windy morning with the boys to see that there was a red flag placed on a sand dune, indicating that the waters were not safe for swimming.

“Ah, screw it!”, Mike, the weakest swimmer of the crew, declared as he started sprinting towards the shoreline and dove headfirst into the drink, with all of his friends reluctantly following behind him.

They all started swimming out, and Mike was ecstatic to see his first big wave of vacation roll out to shore. Every year when he went to the Jersey Shore, he always felt an adrenaline rush when he’d dive under a wave and feel it crash over his body - he was ready for this.

The wave grew higher and higher until Mike’s stomach dropped and he realized that he may not be able to dive under it like he’d done his entire life. By the time this thought registered in his head, it was too late. The wave hit him head-on, pummeled his body deep underwater, and rolled him what felt like a hundred times.

Millions of thoughts began flying through Mike’s head as he started to panic and run out of breath. Was this really going to be the way he’d die? His heart was pounding, his lungs were on fire, and his limbs were growing weak. As hard as he was pushing and kicking his body upwards, he was just not reaching the top of the water.

Mike was certain that if he’d be underwater for 10 more seconds, he’d pass out. Luckily in his spastic episode of kicking, he had managed to reach the floor of the ocean and pushed himself upwards as hard as possible.

“Dear God, please let this work”, Mike prayed as the last bit of air escaped from his lungs.

God was with Mike on this day; his head sprung up out of the water and he took the biggest gaping breath of his entire life. Once he realized that he was, indeed, still alive, he swam to the beach the fastest that he’d ever swam.

When he’d finally escaped from the water, he turned back to see his friends struggling to make it back to shore as well. Mike was completely exhausted and horrified by what he’d just been through, and was shaking furiously, which he would continue to do for almost an hour after.

“What the hell were we thinking?”, Mike huffed.

“We?”, said Mike’s friend Frank, astonished by Mike’s stupidity.

The boys retreated back to their room for the night, settled down with some piña coladas, and busted Mike’s chops for the rest of the vacation.

Ride That Wave

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March 1990
Cancún, México

I interviewed my father, Mike Rebert in our home in Allentown, Pa. Throughout the interview, he laughed and shook his head while he relived the crazy memories from his spring break in college. My dad shared this story with me because he claimed that it was the most scared he’s ever been in his life. Although this experience didn’t keep them from going back into the water later in their trip, it did teach Mike to be a lot more cautious when swimming in choppy water. It also taught him a lesson about following rules when it comes to safety in the ocean - if he had died that day, I never would have been born!

Decade: 1990s
Rating:
Recorded by Megan Rebert on December 6, 2017
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