58: She Really Made a Splash, and I Couldn’t Be More Proud


Her mother raised her to be afraid of the water, thinking it would keep her from drowning in the creek that ran behind their house. (Sometimes mothers get love and safety all mixed up.) As an adult, she spent one week every summer at the beach, never staying at a motel with a pool and never wading into the ocean over her knees. When the Medford Manor pool was built, she dropped her children off every morning on her way to work, brought them lunch on her lunch hour, and picked them up on the way home from work, having them sit on one of the quilts her mother made spread over the backseat to protect her car’s interior from chlorine-laden swimsuits. She made sure every one of her children learned to swim.

One day she woke up in her fifth decade and decided she wanted to learn to swim, so she did what any woman does when she’s ready to grow fins:

1. She designed a swimming pool.
2. She found a place for it in the yard.
3. She hired a contractor.
4. She found a swimming instructor willing to travel.
5. She bought a cute, flattering swimsuit.
6. She hired the swimming instructor who was willing to travel.

And I want you to know that in less than two months, I attended my mother’s first swim recital. Can you imagine being taught to be terrified of the water as a young child then learning to swim – of your own initiative – some 50 years later? That right there is why Ada Ballard Hewell, my mother, is a Pink Galoshes Woman. (She’s the tall one in the above photo, and the pint-sized one wearing the obviously out-grown, handed-down swimsuit? That’s me, her favorite daughter.)


Pink Galoshes Portrait: Ada Ballard Hewell
17″ x 21″
cut-up discarded clothing, cheesecloth, seed pearls, embroidery floss
photo transferred to fabric
hand stitched

Oh, and those other words on her Pink Galoshes Portrait – gardening, entertaining, reading, socializing, learning, cooking – those are other things she’s good at.


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  1. Linda K Sienkiewicz

    Impressive woman, this Ada! (impressive stitcher, too)

    • whollyjeanne

      I am quite proud of her. Perhaps I add her to our Strong Women Pinterest board?

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