BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — When Birmingham grandmother Martha Dawson heard about the years-long YMCA lifeguard shortage, she immediately thought of her grandson, Davis. What she didn’t bargain for was becoming a lifeguard herself.

”I thought that being a lifeguard would be a really good job for a 15-year-old to have,” she said.

To her surprise, Martha was also recruited, an offer that she calls a great gift.

”It’s amazing. I can’t really put into words what it means to me,” she said. “It totally connects me to my grandson; it’s something we enjoy together. And again, it’s sort of emphasizing the idea (not) just giving lip service to something worthwhile, but actually doing it.”

The pair is now going on two years of protecting the pool. Davis said the experience has allowed him to see his grandmother in a whole new light.

”It’s an experience that a lot of people don’t get,” he said. “I am also able to see her more as a person rather than just my grandmother, which is really nice.”

For Martha, the call of duty has forged a connection that goes well beyond family ties.

”He’s not only my grandson, he’s my best friend,” she said.

Martha is a huge proponent of the “Y” and has been a member for decades. She said it keeps her young, allowing her to exercise, enjoy fun activities and spend time with people she cares about – a recipe she calls the key to life.

”She’s an example of what I want to be like when I grow old, because she’s always doing something,” Davis said. “You can’t stop her.”