Sunday, January 23, 2011


This week, I drove to Boston in a thick snowstorm to re-start the surgery to be scheduled for April or May. Today, I skied a few hours in bitter cold with my Skatter Monkeys and took one hard run on my own, then rested all afternoon for the drive home.

Tonight, I sit on the sofa full of vicodan, eyes blurred, back muscles aching and stomach upset, not sure I want to eat. With every movement my groin yelps, I groan, and the temperature tomorrow is not supposed to get over zero. Still, I will do it all again anyway.

Considering such pain and effort, it makes no sense to go to the Mountain every weekend. The gas, miles on the car and all the time spent are not even reimbursed, but like a certain credit card advertisement, I know the time with my son is priceless.

It starts with lights on and Ipod alarms jingling, but unlike school days, he rises quickly and soon sits in the kitchen darkness waiting for me to be ready. The fact is acknowledged that there is no talking to him in the early morning, but we can banter with the young Bosnian woman buying our cup of coffee, donuts and gas at the entrance to the highway.

Along those fifty miles of commute, we commune, watching the dawn as silently as the sun rising, the light expanding like the warmth in our heart, in awe of the beauty, sometimes sharing just a word or two to acknowledge we both really see it. Fresh snow makes it a wonderland and sparks the desire to make first tracks like a log stirred on the fire.

At the Mountain, he moves into the day at his own pace, marching up the hill ahead of his still-weak Dad laboring with huffs and puffs. I might not see him again until after a run or two, squeezing in a hot chocolate before class, or in the line-up collecting our kids.

Focused on my Skatter Monkeys, I hear his voice joking or his kids and other kids calling for his attention. He is usually more organized than I and on the lift, up and out of sight. We pass him over-head, calling down from the lift good-natured taunts to his group all in a line, or they (on the next run) to mine, scattered across the slope.

At break, his six rambunctious boys contort around my eight sweet girls, red faces exuberant with the fresh air and activity. The lodge is abuzz with energy, helmets, gloves and jackets strewn, thrown and kicked about. French fries full of ketchup smeared over the tables.

He gets help in the afternoon with his group, while my half-day go back to their parents and I wander up to a private place near the locker-room for a nap. If he is lucky, the snow and weather hold and no hot plans are developing in town, he gets a few free runs at the end of the day.

Our drive home, again, is silent with darkness falling. Often he sleeps. Soon he will be driving. I have known few other such moments of utter content, physical exhaustion totally spent and perfect satisfaction with the state of life and being than after a day of skiing.

As I struggle to come to terms with the pluses and minuses of my relationship with my own father and how it has affected my life entire, these seasons on snow feel like a gift. In consideration that he has already witnessed so much emotional fighting, financial turmoil, reckless determination and luckless health in his short life, the routine of getting to the Mountain each weekend morning for simple fun is pure bliss, going a long way to balance and heal the innocence that was lost.

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