December 23, 2009
The golf clubs have been put away and the skis are out. So begins another season. The sand in the upper chamber of lifeâ€™s hourglass slips inexorably below where all my yesterdays are stored.
With every season, the grains of sand in the â€œwhatâ€™s to comeâ€ chamber diminish as the â€œwhat has beenâ€ portion grows. At 70, oneâ€™s future is measured not in years but in tomorrows.
When the snow falls, Iâ€™ll be back on my skis, fighting both the winter chill and the aging process, refusing to give into the aches and pains that become harder to ignore with every passing year.
Iâ€™m at the point where Iâ€™m not going to get better at anything, particularly at skiing; itâ€™s just a matter of holding my own. One can only struggle against the inevitable decline and hope it will be gradual and gentle.
I always admired the hale and hearty senior skiers with their ruddy good looks and enthusiasm. They look healthier than their counterparts in Florida. Now, Iâ€™m trying to be one of them.
Itâ€™s not easy getting up early on a wintry morning when the temperature is hovering at five degrees and putting on all the gear you need to wear for skiing. But the exhilaration of gliding down a groomed trail on a crisp and clear winterâ€™s day is worth it.
Particularly, when youâ€™re trying to keep up with your grandchildren.
Iâ€™m usually the last one down but I like to show them I can still do it.
They say a parent is only as happy as his or her unhappiest child and thereâ€™s some truth to that, but for a grandparent, there is nothing better than sharing the joy of your grandchildren.
The best part of the day is gathering around the fireplace with a beverage, tired after a long day of skiing, waiting for a good meal with your children and their children around you.
A great feature of marrying young, and one I never anticipated, is to be young enough to know and enjoy your grandchildren. I never expected this payoff when I was changing diapers at 23.
So up the chairlift and down the slopes Iâ€™ll go for as long as I can. I will not surrender easily to the limitations of aging. Life is a rope slowly slipping through your fingers. You cannot stop it, but you can grab hold and try to squeeze the most out of it.
We have a condo at Bretton Woods near the stately, old Mt. Washington Hotel. Most evenings the neighbors gather around a fire pit in the woods a short distance from our building. Appropriately named â€œWhiskey Hollow,â€ it is a work of art with stairs, a hand rail, and benches. After a day of skiing you will find us there, huddled around the fire discussing the dayâ€™s events.
You non-skiers donâ€™t know what youâ€™re missing. Just north of here, you can pay dearly for expensive lift tickets to wait in line outdoors in below-freezing weather to ride up the mountain on a chairlift, exposed to arctic wind-chills, for the sheer pleasure of strapping a couple of expensive, modified, bed slats on your feet so you can risk life and limb trying to get down. Does it get any better than that?
Fortunately, itâ€™s an activity that turns out better than it sounds. Well, at least itâ€™s an activity, and there arenâ€™t many of those in winter. Admittedly, on occasion I ask myself what am I doing up here in these conditions.
The answer is simple. To prove that I still can.