Several years ago, Dad hung up his skis, but not before taking one last run.
It was his birthday, mid-March and he and Mom had come North to mark his 85th. He wanted one last ski run, in fact, took two or three, as he reminded me today. After Mom took some pictures and they marked the moment, he went home to hang up his skis.
His skis stayed there on the rack in the garage for several years until last winter when I happened to show up on the morning that he passed on his boots and skis on to the neighbor across the street.
Dad will tell you that he skied until he was 85 because he knew when to stop. For all his many years of hiking, skiing and snowshoeing the slopes and mountains of northern New England, he knew when it was time to turn back down the trail.
This early spring, how I resist the end of a season that I do not want to end. So after church, one more loop around the trail, across the street from where Dad took his last ski run four years ago.
An overcast day, downright dreary as the Deacon said at church this morning. And yet an inch or two of snow last night made for the promise of a silky smooth path. Slow and wet as well to help me navigate with ease my way down the steep hill I’d been avoiding descending all season.
In the last two days I’ve sat with the daughters of two elderly women who were dying. A call from the hospital Saturday morning, another Sunday, late afternoon. The hospital here doesn’t have a chaplain, doesn’t have someone to come and sit by the bedside, hear the stories, mark a passage with a prayer.
I didn’t know I had so much to say. What a gift to have the time to say it. What a privilege to sit and hold all that needs to be put down so a new season can come.
How are you doing with aging?, my friend asks last week whose husband initiated the conversation about how much longer they could practically up live here in the woods.
Its not easy, no, everyone has told me that. And I not ready for winter to end, to hang up my skis, to contemplate aging.
My friend and her husband decide to put aside the question on moving to another day, take in the gift of being here now.
Last week we celebrated Dad’s 89th Birthday with Mom and two of his grandchildren, down the road from the mountain where he took his last run.
I’ve missed Dad who was out on the trail, skiing down to catch the one last chair of the day up the mountain.
It’s different now. Not bad but different, I can at last say that now. The time to treasure the gift of what is.
How long do you remain open?, I ask when I return to the lodge.
Until next weekend.
Hmmm… maybe time for one last loop.