They went swimming in the condo pool on a Tuesday evening in August, the sun low in the sky, a chilly breeze from the ocean raising goose bumps on Joe’s skin. They were alone in the pool. Joe had just taken Nathaniel for a haircut and mostly wanted to get the kid into the pool so the stray hairs would wash off in the water, saving a bath. The boy wore a light blue wetsuit and orange floaties, small balloons under his arms that made him virtually unsinkable, so the man just sat at the edge of the pool with his feet dangling, trying to get up the nerve to jump in. After a few minutes Nathaniel drifted toward the middle of the pool.

“Daddy, come get me,” the boy said.

“Just paddle. Scoop, scoop, scoop, like a dog running,” Joe said, making exaggerated swimming motions with his hands.

The boy tried to move his hands, splashed water in his eyes, and started screaming. “Come get me daddy, please come get me.”

Damn it’s cold, Joe thought as he waded out to get the boy, the water painfully cold for a few seconds on his  stomach.

“Let’s go to the hot pool now,” he said, towing the boy behind him.

They sat in the in the hot tub, the man working his knotted shoulders and back on a jet, the boy sitting on the top step, only his thighs and feet in the hot water. Every three or four minutes, the jets shut off. Nathaniel jumped up each time and turned the timer to add three more minutes, sat back on the top step.

“Let’s just hang out here and talk,” Joe said.

“Okay. I like to hang out and talk with you sometimes,” the boy replied.

They talked idly about the handrail, “Daddy what is this shiny bar for?” about the sign, “What does the sign say?” about what “No Lifeguard on Duty” meant.

“The sign also says, ‘No Diving’,” Joe said.

“My mommy dives.”

“She does? Oh, yeah, your mom is a scuba diver. So is your dad.”

“When I grow a little older, maybe I can be a scuba diver too, and go scuba diving with you and mommy, okay?”

Joe looked at the boy. Where to begin answering that question. No, you can’t be a scuba diver because you have a quirky heart and a completely screwed up respiratory system, or, no your mommy and I will never go scuba diving together again?

“Daddy, when I had heart surgery, do I get a lot of shots?” It was almost like the boy could read his mind sometimes.

“Um, yes, you did, before, during, and after your heart surgery. Why do you ask?”

“I just don’t like shots. Daddy, did you tell the doctor that I didn’t want any more blood draws?”

The last time they had been in the hospital, Joe had promised the boy that he would ask the doctor if they could slow down on the blood draws. “Well, I guess I did. But I don’t get to tell the doctor when you get shots or blood draws. The doctor just thought you didn’t need any more blood draws. But I did tell her you didn’t want any more.”

“So I’m all done with shots now?”

“Yes. Well, no, but you only have to get the normal shots that normal kids . . . . well, you have to get all the regular shots that everyone gets when they are three or four, but you don’t have any more blood draws.”

“Oh. Okay. I just don’t like shots. But you know what I don’t like the most? Blood draws.”

“I know Bubby,” the man said, “I don’t like them either.”

“Do you cry when you get shots?”

“Not really. Not anymore. But I used to cry when I was a little boy.”

They sat in the hot water for a while longer. Joe was happy to just chat with the boy about random things. After a while the boy started to sing a song, an old Christmas carol, “Old toy trains.” His voice was sweet and clear, off key, but what the hell, it was still a moment. A summer evening in the hot pool, jets pumping burning water on his knotted back, his baby signing Christmas songs.

“Can you sing the ‘Weight’ song daddy?”

“Carry that Weight? Golden Slumbers?” the man asked. He knew exactly which song the boy meant, but asked anyway.

Joe sang the song:

Once there was a way to get back homeward,
Once there was a way to get back home,
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby.

“Do the ‘weight’ part daddy,” the boy said.

Joe sang, “Boy, you’re gonna’ carry that weight, carry that weight a long time” a few times.

“Daddy, is the weight part about a boy in the hospital?” Nathaniel asked.

Joe looked at him. Where the hell did the kid come up with this stuff? What was going on in his head?

“No it’s not. Why do you ask”

“Well,” Nathaniel said, “I just think it’s about a boy in the hospital.”

“Okay,” the man said, “I don’t think it is, but it could be.” He stretched, looked at the orange sky to the west, the palms surrounding the hot tub black against the evening sky. “it’s almost time for dinner little brother. What do you feel like?”

“Well, how about a few more minutes?” Nathaniel replied. “What time is it? Hold on, let me check my watch.” He looked at the Medi-Alert bracelet on his arm. “Oh, we have a few more minutes.”

Joe laughed. “Did you just look at your Coumadin bracelet to tell the time? Where did you learn that?”

“Nowhere. I just like to pretend that it’s my watch.”

Joe moved closer to the boy, sprawled himself on the lowest step, and stretched his arm around the boy.

He would have stayed curled up with Nathaniel in the hot pool for a few more hours, but the boy needed his Coumadin and some dinner, and Joe suddenly needed a drink. He stood up, steam rising from his body.

“Daddy, can we, may we, stay please for a couple more minutes?” the boy asked.

“Sure, just a couple more minutes though, okay,” he said and sank back down. He drew the boy close again, closed his eyes, felt his soft muscles get shoved around and indented in random patterns by the hot tub jets. “Just a couple more minutes.”