A Reminder Of Times Past

How a simple object can elicit memories and emotions.

            So what do you have as a keepsake that keeps alive special memories from the past?  Photos don’t count; everyone has those.  I’m talking about that odd, unusual, or possibly very mundane thing that maybe for you alone captures a special memory or meaning.

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            It could be something you’ve saved for years, knowing right from the beginning it would always be special to you.  Maybe, though, it is something found years later, and now unexpectedly stirs an emotion you never guessed it might.

            That’s my story; a run-of-the-mill item that showed up to trigger many emotions, many memories, from good to bad.

            As is true with most of us living in this region, I have accumulated many coats and jackets over the years, to deal with the ever changing, and often-cold climate here.  I must have seven or eight, ranging in age from a few years, to a couple decades old.  Sometimes, one or two of those jackets gets shoved to the rear of the closet, and forgotten for some time.

            Earlier this past winter, I happened upon one of those jackets I’d forgotten.  As it was a favorite at one time, I happily pulled it out, realizing it was far too nice to have left unused for so long.  As I slipped it on, I noticed hanging from one pocket a ski lift ticket from Burke Mountain dated February 24, 2013.  As happens to all of us at one time or another, this simple, ordinary item I’d forgotten was there, threw me for a loop.

            It was a reminder of one of the last times I was able to downhill ski effortlessly.  Was it really that long ago?  Not long after, (the next winter, in fact) I would begin to realize there really was something going wrong with my body.

            I’ve got to say, even though I started late (at age 43), I really learned to like downhill skiing.  After the first couple of rough years learning (and falling a lot), I felt I got pretty good at it, too.  One of my favorite places to ski was Burke Mountain.  It was never too busy on weekdays, usually had a good amount of snow, good grooming, and some challenging runs.  Yes, skiing was fun, and it made the winter, not my favorite season of the year, far more bearable.

            Skiing during the winter of 2014 became a challenge, however.  For some reason, my balance seemed off.  The turns seemed awkward; the smooth action of cruising down the hills at a moderate speed (about the fastest I ever really went) wasn’t there.  I could do it, but it just didn’t feel right.  Nor did hiking or biking later that year; I could perform, but not in the manner in which I was accustomed.

            Even with some obvious issues going on, I did plan on skiing that next year.  But as it turns out, that lift ticket from 2013 proved to be one of my last truly enjoyable days of skiing.

            Jump ahead four years.  Skiing, biking, and hiking are all pretty much a memory.  I only walk (if you can call it that) with assistance now.  Neurological disorders tend to sap physical abilities like that.  Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but almost always progressively, and without any consideration for one’s passions or desires.

            Finding that lift ticket after four years struck me.  It made me think of how much I once enjoyed that sport, how much I miss activities such as skiing, but it also reminded me of some great times spent on the slopes of Vermont and New Hampshire; times I’m glad I didn’t miss.

            I don’t know if I’ll ever take to the slopes again.  After all, many ski areas have assisted facilities for disabled skiers.  I need to decide if the lure of feeling that rush again is greater than having my last memory of the sport being running top to bottom on my own two feet. 

            Even though I can’t ride a two-wheeler on the road, there are three wheeled recumbent bikes I’m dying to try.  And hiking a flat trail with a walker is better than not hiking at all.  So maybe one or two more assisted runs down the mountain are in the cards for me.  No matter what, though, I’m hanging on to that simple little white and black lift ticket.  When I see it, it does bring up more good memories than bad.  It is, as they say, “The stuff dreams (were) made of.”

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