It was one of those "June gloom" days when fog hung thick and dripped cold beads of moisture onto the pavement below. The pool at the Hills Swim Club was virtually empty -- only a handful of people dared brave the water on the second day of summer. Had Heidi Beck been alive, she would have been one of them.
Heidi passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 90. Her family, friends and fellow club members met Sunday to honor the memory of this remarkable woman who swam every day -- rain or shine -- for 50 years.
When I interviewed Heidi at age 82, she figured she had swum three-quarters of the way around the world at the Hills Swim Club, where she'd joined as a charter member in 1962. Her routine was admirable -- up every day at 4 a.m. and into the pool before 6 a.m. She was convinced that without swimming, she'd have been bound to a wheelchair. It was her Swiss discipline that kept her moving, even when she wanted to sleep in. Heidi's day didn't stop with exercise. She spent much of her time as a volunteer at Oakland Children's Hospital, working with sick kids.
She once told the staff: "I just love those little people. When you get them to smile, that's worth a million dollars."
On one of the hospital walls is a picture of Heidi, lovingly holding a child. There were other things, too, that made this senior remarkable. At 76, she tried sky diving. Twice. She said she was inspired by a magazine article she'd read in the AAA publication Via. I almost forgot to mention -- she made her first jump just six months after having hip surgery.
These stories and more were detailed, in perfect penmanship, in a notebook of her memoirs that she finished in 2011. Her friends took turns thumbing through the pages, immersing themselves in the adventure that was her life story.
Yes, it was cold and gray outside. But inside the clubhouse, you could feel a warm glow. It was generated by the comfort of friendship, fond memories and the recognition of a life well lived.
Around town: How much "fro-yo" can one village eat? Look for Tutti Frutti to move into the Montclair Malt Shop soon -- the second frozen yogurt shop in a two-block stretch. I've never tried Tutti's yogurt, but the Berkeley store apparently sells a vegan version of the frozen treat made of soy beans.
Meanwhile, down the street, either someone is a rap fan or we have a new celebrity in Montclair. There's a parking sign up near the village tennis courts that says "Reserved exclusively for P. Diddy."
And don't forget that Saturday is the Montclair Village Beer & Wine Celebration. This is a street fair with live music and art and more than 20 artisan wines and craft beers. Check it out at www.MontclairVillage.com.