The tradition I carry on is lifeguarding. For three summers I’d walk to the YMCA in my Ohio town, climb the ladder, smear on lotion, and sit watching. Guarding felt assumed. My mother was a lifeguard and her sister and daughters had been guards. My sister and her daughters were also guards. Plugged ears, wet towels, and bleached hair were our destiny. For three years I was back in the chair, watching for an accident, which did happen, but not in my area. A child jumped off the diving board onto another. He went unnoticed for precious minutes. The Y nearly had its first tragedy. Guarding was no longer just a job: we protected lives and doing so became my coming of age story, told in wet bathing suits. I learned the women in my family are enduring, committed, and patient, skills honed in the lifeguard chair.