My dad taught me how to love playing on snow and ice.
No. He showed me how to love it.
He didn't have to say much. He only had to supply the gear, get me into my snowsuit, bring me outside, and put up with an untold amount of whining and snot. But he did it. He just kept showing up and putting up with us. Now that I have kids, I appreciate what he did all the more. That's a lot of snot and whining.
Once when I was home from college and he was still working, he came home on his lunch break to find me digging my ice skates out of the attic. I was headed over to the pond on the golf course, alone, for a skate. He was envious. He went back to work.
Half an hour later he showed up at the pond, still dressed in his suit and tie, with a hat and scarf and gloves for warmth, skates in hand. I will never forget that skate together. And oh how I wish I had carried a camera with me everywhere I went back then like I seem to do now. I only have the memory, but it's a vivid one.
And he showed up yesterday at the skating rink where I was teaching/showing Isla how to love skating. (It's been too warm, again, for pond skating.) He showed up with his old school racing skates. He bought them 20 or more years ago in Ottawa so he could skate through the city on the Rideau Canal.
He got to the rink with just 35 minutes of public skating time left. It took him 20 minutes to put on his skates. Isla helped him. She patiently knelt at his feet and helped him tighten and tie his skates, painstakingly trying to get her fingers to form the perfect bow that still eludes her. She treated Papa like a king.
"Okay, put you other foot in, Papa."
While this was going on, my sister, who brought my dad to the rink, and I engaged in some irreverent, nervous-daughter banter regarding whether or not she should write DNR (Do not resucitate) somewhere on my dad's person with a Sharpie pen. I suggested his forehead.
When he finally got situated, there was just 15 minutes left to skate. I offered my hand to him as he stepped out onto the ice but he wouldn't take it. "Funny, I don't see any of my friends out here," he said, knowing damn well he was the only octogenarian on the ice.
The first few stilted strides he took made me wonder if this was such a good idea after all.
He caught up to Isla, she looked back over her shoulder and saw him coming and promptely skated right into the path of a man who was trying to pass her and fell down. Dad offered to help her up, but she declined. He found his stride and made it around twice before sitting down on the bench to tighten his skates, then took two or three more laps before the Zamboni started up and the door lifted.
He tried to go around one more time but I reminded him the Zamboni was coming. In hindsight, I should have let the Zamboni driver wait.
Most recent airing of dirty laundry can be found over here at BabyCenter.