Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Human in Every Sense of the Word – A Whiff of Chlorine on a Happy Summer Day by Mary Hiland

Today my guest is Mary Hiland author of a book that everyone who has cared for or will care for elderly parents in the future would benefit from reading. Find out more about The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter’s Memoir and read a review later in the post.

Mary shares a memory of a wonderful summer day when despite being sight impaired, she enjoyed the freedom and fun of being a teenager aged 14.

A Whiff of Chlorine on a Happy Summer Day by Mary Hiland

The smell of chlorine mixed with the happy sounds of children playing in a swimming pool transport me to a day when I felt like a regular kid on a sunny summer afternoon. My parents had given permission to their only daughter who was visually impaired the freedom to do what fully sighted kids took for granted. Early that morning, at age 14 and with low vision, I had eagerly, and without hesitation, taken a bus to my friend’s house that I knew from ballet class, and there, I met two of her guy friends. It was a surprise to me that they were going, but it made the day even more fun. We trooped onto a city bus that took us to Coney Island near Cincinnati. I had been there with my parents, but never with just a group of kids. Looking back, I must congratulate my parents for not overprotecting me. I felt grown up with happy anticipation of how the day would unfold.

At that time, Sunlight Pool at Coney Island was the largest swimming pool in the world, with lots of extra amenities that added to the fun. A giant slide would send us shooting into the three-foot deep section, and a concrete island was built right in the middle of the five-foot area. I had to swim to get there, which made it that much more exciting. Once we scrambled up on top of it, we struck poses that we hoped would draw the attention of the boys. We played in the shallow water, standing on our hands, doing somersaults under water and swimming back and forth between the legs of each other. We had contests to see who could hold their breath the longest and other silly games. We splashed the boys, and they returned our serves which sent us giggling with delight. Ruth Ann and I stood by the railing at the deep end and watched our boys fearlessly jump or dive from the high dive and swim over to us grinning and all full of themselves. We all took a break at the snack bar and feasted on hot and salty French fries and hot dogs dripping with mustard, followed by ice cream cones and then a brief nap in the sun, slathered with baby oil to hasten the tanning.

Then as dinnertime approached, and most of the little kids vanished, we returned to the water to do some real swimming and more playing, as if the day would never end. With the little kids out of the way, the pool was ours.

As the sun began to set, we hurried to our respective locker rooms for showers and dressing for the evening. We rolled our hair in big fat pink foam rollers and used the built in hair dryers. Out came our sun dresses with summer jewelry, Prince Machibelli perfume, and sandals. We met the boys at the midway and walked with them to Moonlight Gardens for dancing under the stars to a live band. Although this was not really a date, we did dance with each other, and as we strolled back to the entrance to meet our parents, there might have been a little hand-holding along the way.

Sunburned and exhausted from the fun, the water, the laughing and the dancing, I went to sleep that night with the contentment of having a fabulous day of freedom as a teenager on her first teen-age adventure on her own with her friends.

©Mary Hiland 2019

About the book

Making the decision to move an elderly parent into assisted living against his or her will presents myriad challenges. Like many adult children who want to respect their parents’ wishes, I didn’t take action until it was unavoidable. But unlike most adult children, I had to deal with this crisis as an only living child who is totally blind. The logistics alone were merely the start of my uphill struggle with this daunting task.

During the last two years of my mother’s life, I learned many lessons about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and she learned to accept the difficulties of being in her late nineties and living in an assisted living community.

In The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter’s Memoir, I not only describe the move, my mother’s adjustment to a foreign way of life, and the emotional trauma for both of us, but also offer some advice and comfort for others who are experiencing such dramatic changes.

What makes my story unusual is that I tell it with blindness always in the background. You will find some touching moments, some troubling ones, and some that are relevant to your own life.

This is a memoir woven through my observations of who my mother was and who I am.

One of the reviews for the book

I recognized in the author’s writing so very much of my own story of helping my own aging parents make difficult decisions.

I bought a copy for my Kindle, and it’s also available in hardcopy. I plan to order copies for my friends who face the universal circumstances that affect so many of us as our parents grow older.

I highly recommend this book, because in it, along with her own interesting story, Ms. Hiland gives us a valuable primer on navigating the pitfalls of lovingly yet firmly moving a parent to assisted living.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and on Amazon UK:

Other buying options including Smashwords:

About Mary Hiland

Mary Hiland, a native of Cincinnati, lives in Gahanna, Ohio with her Seeing Eye® dog, Dora. She is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a B.S. degree in Social Work. She recently retired as Executive Director of The American Council of the Blind of Ohio. Before that, she served for over 21 years as Director of Volunteers for VOICEcorps Reading Service:

Ms. Hiland has been published in Chicken Soup for the Parent’s Soul, Redbook magazine, Toastmaster magazine, and The Columbus Dispatch.

Visit her blog at

In 2001, Ms. Hiland carried the Olympic torch, and in 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from her local Toastmasters Club.

Ms. Hiland has two adult children and five granddaughters. Her passions are reading, public speaking, cycling, cross-country skiing, swimming, hiking, and taking long walks with Dora. She writes for the pure pleasure of it.

As an only child for most of her life, she benefited from the single-minded love and devotion of her parents. So when her mother, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and was going blind and deaf, needed to give up her independence and move into assisted living, it was time for Ms. Hiland to step up and assume the duties and role reversals required for her mother. She wrote about her experiences with the hope of being helpful to others in this tough place in life. The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter’s Memoir is her first book.

Connect to Mary


My thanks to Mary for sharing this wonderful memory of a wonderful summer day.. I hope you will head over and explore her blog for yourselves.. thanks Sally.



25 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Human in Every Sense of the Word – A Whiff of Chlorine on a Happy Summer Day by Mary Hiland

  1. Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    What a wonderful surprise here on this Sunday morning!
    To wake up and find one of my very own totally talented Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing family member clients here.
    Oh Mary, I am so pleased to read this and what fun!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Thanks to you Sally for having Mary over on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. What wonderful memories, Mary! You brought me back to those times when I was a dumb, naive teenager who didn’t know the first thing about girls. So true about we boys showing off since our neanderthal brains didn’t know any other way. Ha-ha!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It is nerve racking letting fourteen year old girls out at the best of times, though a lot depends on what their friends are like! Mary’s parents must have made an effort to not be over protective. Sounds as if Mary was lucky to have that friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, when I was diagnosed with RP, my parents were probably devastated, but they didn’t let it show. More importantly, they encouraged me to go on with my plans for my life. I still had some vision back then, so they were comfortable with letting me ride the bus on my own, since my mother and I rode the bus downtown for shopping often, and I knew how it all worked. But when they let me go to college 100 miles away, I have to congratulate them for their bravery. I was armed with a white cane, which I never used and a roll of quarters for calling home on Sunday nights, and the fortitude I learned at my mother’s knee. Even then, she respected my tenacity and the will to do what I needed to do. And speaking of the kids I hung out with that day, they were from my balalet class, so it was unlikely that we were going to get into trouble, because serious ballet students don’t have the energy left for anything but good clean fun. At least that’s what I remember it to be.

      Liked by 2 people

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