After 46 years ago of skiing and thousands of wonderful moments, it may be time for this octogenarian to stop. It’s hard for many of us to know when we are no longer capable of handling something we love to do, be it play or work.
With the COVID-19 pandemic creating complications, I hadn’t skied a lick this season until my son Jack and I went to Camelback Mountain in Pennsylvania recently.
Assuming I would be tired after this outing, I emailed the leader of a Long Island writing group that I wouldn’t make a video session scheduled for that evening.
She responded: "As you swoosh down the mountain, I hope a new essay will occur to you for us to hear next time! Have fun!"
There was no swooshing, no fun, but you’re reading a new essay.
Perhaps I should have known this was not to be my day when just before we got on a chairlift I realized my goggles were attached upside down to my helmet. Once this was corrected, Jack and I rode the chairlift up, and I skied maybe 20 yards before taking a hard fall, landing on my left side.
Good heavens, this was level land, and I couldn’t deal with it.
When Jack saw I was down, he yelled, "Are you OK?"
My left side hurt and the tumble had scared me.
"No," I replied. He climbed up to me and demanded that I take the chairlift back down.
I said "no."
He said we were done for the day.
I wanted to keep going and insisted I would ski down. When we got to the bottom of the run, we went to the first-aid office, where a young medic pressed on my left rib cage and had me breathe.
I was in pain but not agony. He didn’t think anything was broken but suggested a chest X-ray when we got home.
Jack handed me the car keys and ordered me to go there while he took one run.
My condition became clearer to me once I got to the car. I couldn’t bend comfortably to take my boots off, and I had to ask Jack to do it for me.
As we headed home, he called his mother. After several sighs and "oh, Lords," Irene looked up the phone number for a radiology practice in Lynbrook. I got an appointment for an X-ray later that day.
During the drive back to Long Island, Jack talked of how long we had skied together, skiing that included trips with his two young daughters. He made it clear he thought I should stop; I was done.
I naturally advanced the illusion that I would spend the rest of the year working on my balance, and when the snows came again I would be back out there.
He wasn’t buying that nor was another frequent ski buddy, Nicholas, our grandson, when he talked to me later in the day.
The X-ray showed "a nondisplaced fracture of the left sixth rib." Later tests showed I had also broken two pelvic bones and torn a hamstring.
In all my years of playing football in high school and pickup basketball into my 70s, I had never broken a bone.
Although my brain is telling me enough is probably enough, I’m sure my pride will be lobbying for one more chance when the 2021-22 ski season starts.
While I was at the radiology facility, Jack texted me, asking what was going on. I tried to type "waiting to be X-rayed" but twice the message came out "waiting to be crated."
Aren’t we all.
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