By Sharon Birlson Kirkham
Our oldest grandsons are about to reach the ripe young ages of 16 and 14. Max and Marcus currently have two interests … neither of which includes Grandma. Girls and basketball pretty much occupy their young adolescent minds. Even Grandpa, “a basketball star in his own right,” has something to contribute. I, however, lost my rankwithout notification. I woke up one day sitting on the “granny curb” after a decade and a half of grandmother bliss. I hadn’t an inkling how it happened. I had been exiled out of their lives, banished as if I never existed. I looked around and thought, “It’s time for me to make some changes!”
It smacks harsh disappointment when those beloved babies grow up and walk toward independence without even kissing me goodbye. I was having so much fun with them, I never took into consideration they would reach puberty and prefer to hang out with someone other than me. I wasn’t ready to give up so easily. I knew there must be something we could still do and enjoy together, but what?
I donned my thinking cap, asked myself what would capture their attention and decided I would start by learning to whistle real loud through my fingers. That earned me a raised eyebrow. I then bought a video and some juggling balls and taught myself to juggle. After two months of persistent practice, I proudly performed my best act, maintaining their attention for about five minutes. When they realized it was impossible to do it themselves as easily as I had (after days of practice), they went straight back to their texting, likely reporting to their friends the crazy antics of their grandma.
One snowy Tuesday morning last winter, Cary and I took a ride up to Jones, Michigan, to a little ski area called Swiss Valley. We parked the truck and walked into the lodge. After snooping around checking things out, we decided to have a cheeseburger and sit a spell. We then walked over to the ski shop and for some strange reason Cary bought me a helmet. I didn’t even ski, but it was a beautiful helmet and had been marked down, so we bought it. Somehow we ended up in the rental area and before I knew it, I was decked head (helmet) to toe in ski gear. I spent the day on the bunny hill, too afraid to try that dreaded tow rope with those deep ruts. I skied down and schlepped my skies over my shoulder back up the hill all afternoon while Cary sat by the fire in the lodge.
We went back a few more times and I got braver and braver with each visit. I not only rode the tow rope, but valiantly managed the chair lift without too much difficulty. We then took the leap and purchased my own gear. Now I was locked in.
We went a little further north and skied Crystal Mountain, then crossed the bridge into the Upper Peninsula toward Lake Superior and found Marquette Mountain. The next trip took us through Wisconsin toward Iron River to an out-of-the-way slope called Ski Brule, which proved to be my favorite place. I have a cousin who lives in Colorado, so we even flew out to Eagle Vail to the Rocky Mountains to ski with her family at Copper Mountain. Most recently we got out, but stayed a little closer to home at the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, WI.
With each new slope, I gain more and more confidence. Who knew we could actually have fun in this “white stuff?”
Cary found his nitch swimming laps in the pool and using the workout room at each resort. With ESPN playing on TV in most every lodge, we are both having a good time. We pack tons of food and take as many friends as we can find. It’s not the Caribbean, but for a three-day getaway, it sure beats the cabin fever that tries to settle in this time of year.
And … we found our connection with the boys. They are snowboarding and texting us to see which slope we are skiing next.
Goodbye, curb — hello, mountaintop!
SHARON KIRKHAM travels and writes. A retired flight attendant, she and her husband Cary were awarded travel privileges for life when she left her job in 2008. They say their intention is to burn it up, and so far they’ve lived up to their promise. Sharon has written and self-published three books. Born, raised and graduated from high school in LaPorte, she and her husband of 34 years are community activists. They love to travel, but always look forward to returning home to their beloved LaPorte.