“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”
-David Ogden Stiers
Last year when my parents visited Tahoe I had the amazing opportunity to take my Dad backcountry skiing for the first time in his life.
Overall, we had a phenomenal time during my parent’s visit and kept each day pretty packed with activities throughout their stay. Nonetheless, I was a little disappointed that it was looking like there would be no time for backcountry skiing before the flight back home to Minnesota.
On their last night in town I asked my Dad if he had any interest in waking up before dawn to go for a quick ski tour, just to see what the sport is all about. “We would’t have much time, so we would have to hustle.” “Yes”, my Dad enthusiastically replied without even checking with my Mom or asking about flight times, etc! He was in!
Then I started working out the timing… We would have to drive about 45 minutes each way, we would have 60-90 minutes there to teach my Dad everything we could about backcountry skiing, then rush back home only to turn around and drive both parents about 45 minutes to the Reno Airport, just in time to catch their flight.
My Dad had been a skier his entire life, but never had specifically backcountry skied prior to this experience. In a moment I imagined what my Mom’s response would be if, god forbid, he were to fall and get hurt, making us late, missing their flight home…best not to think about that… This plan should work. What could go wrong here?
My Dad took to alpine touring in no time and was cruising up the slope. He is an avid runner, has grown up with both alpine and nordic skiing, and so I knew he would love uphill ski touring if he gave it a chance, and he did!
Both of my parents have aged so incredibly gracefully; they are constant learners, they are students of life. Even in retirement they have taken on all sorts of new things: Tai Chi, weekly tennis matches, regular yoga, wood working in the garage, and Minnesota bird and naturalist classes and retreats, just to name a few. Not to mention, they both continue to volunteer in the professions in which they have already poured their live’s work into. The peace and balance they have achieved is admirable; they are my role models.
Newbies completing their first run of backcountry skiing often express frustration with how short the skiing can be compared to the length of the climb, but not my Dad.
As he gracefully glided his skis to a stop in the powder he turned to me with a grin stretching from ear to ear, “Do we have time to do another run?” he eagerly inquired. He liked it! I was so happy!
Unfortunately we did not have time for another run and had to transition back to skins for a quick tour back to the car. I relaxed a bit as we skied in the sunshine. I was so happy to have shared my passion with my Dad.
“I think he gets it”, I thought as I watched him glide his skis across the frozen lake.
I want to thank my Dad for having been such a selfless patriarch to us all. He consistently puts himself aside while caring for any one of us with needs. Thank you Dad!
This post is to express my immense gratitude for my father as well as my direct and extended family. We are only as strong as our bonds to one another.