My heart was beating like a race horse, my stomach hurt because I was slightly sick from being nervous. I was standing in the water, beside my Dad (who did stay for one sunset after all), who had “heard” that I could ski, but smiled and said, “I can’t believe it… I just can’t believe she got up,” and politely asked, “Are you going to ski for me?”
My Dad was quite a skier in his day. He tried a ski jump on the river; his brother-in-law gunned the boat up past 40 mph, but Dad missed. The part I like most about this story is not that he missed, of course; it’s that I love that my Dad was undaunted, had no fear to be pulled behind a boat at a speed well above 40 mph, and even though he had a stick coming out of his arm after the attempted jump, he never thought once about quitting.
I looked at my Father standing on the end of the dock, and I wondered where that part of his blood, the blue part with all the courage, is within me? Not a drop came my way, as I stand with great anxiety over skiing today. I guess I have his courage in other ways; like that part that lets me drive up to the lake with four boys and then to stay most of the summer alone with them.
My Dad has had one knee replaced. The other knee causes him great pain. Today, I would love to watch him ski. The joy that would spread across his face to be behind the boat, strong, agile, capable, smiling, and young, with the feeling in his heart that there will never come a day that he won’t have command of the rope, the waves, and the skis. When was the last time he skied? Did he know then, that was the last time?
The boat comes around, they ask me if I’m ready; I’m holding the rope too tight to put my thumb up in the air, (because what if the boat does take off, and my thumb is not on the handle?) so I just quietly say, “OK.” I get up the very first time; no false starts. I realize that I wasn’t really afraid of skiing; I was afraid of falling in the water the first time my Dad watches me ski. I had to do it perfectly; as perfectly as I could, for my Dad. As I went around the lake, I thought about dropping that ski again; but you know what? I’m terrified the entire time I ski. I’m not dropping a ski. Still, my Dad was proud; no, not proud, AMAZED to see me go one time around the entire lake without falling.
So, I regret to say, here’s to the end of summer, barefoot toes and hot sultry afternoons. Here’s to the end of eras we don’t even know that are ending.