It is a clear cold day on Attitash Mountain in North Conway, New Hampshire. I have never skied before this day and I am in a cold sweat. My brother-in-law, Ron, rented some skis and boots for me and they are very tight on my feet. I feel like my feet need to breathe. My feet are panicking. I breathe in and out several times and try to locate my sister Ann, but she is nowhere to be found. I look around at the crowd of people waiting for the ski lift. They are all bundled up in bright cute ski outfits and seem so confident and carefree. Why can't I just relax and enjoy this new sport? My brother- in-law just sits there on the ski lift with a frown on his face. Nobody asked him to teach me how to ski. Why is he going to the top of the mountain? I don't want any of this.
The ski lift reaches the top of the mountain and takes a turn to the right. My brother- in-law tells me to jump off before I get taken back to the bottom of the mountain again.
"Is this where we start skiing?", I ask, barely able to look down the mountain. My heart beats profusely and I break out in a cold sweat.
"You can do this!", he commands me. "Just wedge your feet and push forward with the ski poles."
I do what he says and I start going down the slope slowly but I lose my balance and tumble over. I can see the utter annoyance on my brother-in-law's face.
He lifts me up and says. "Get back up. Don't just sit there like a lump, ski!"
I start crying while several skiers whiz by me. "I don't know how!"
"Just do it.", he says and with that he skies away.
I am dumbfounded.
My tears turn into hyperventilating. I try to breathe but my panic is in full mode.
It seems like hours but it is only minutes. I look up and see my brother Joe.
"I will get you down the mountain, Kathy. Ron is a jerk for teaching you from the top of the mountain."
Joe wedges his feet and tells me to ski behind him slowly. Inch by inch I make progress down the mountain. After about fifteen minutes, Joe and I make it to the bottom of the mountain. My brother-in-law is there along with my sister Ann. They are both glaring at me like I did something shameful.
"What is wrong with you?", Joe asks Ron.
"She is so clumsy and stupid! I am not wasting my day teaching her anything!", Ron waves his hand away as he looks at me with disgust in his eyes.
" You are a cold-hearted, self centered idiot!", Joe yells at Ron.
"I did not want Kathy to come with us. Ann felt sorry for her.", Ron shouts back.
"Well I don't feel sorry for you, Ron! I will teach her how to ski myself", Joe said, while guiding me to the bunny trail lift.
The first time today at Attitash Mountain in North Conway, New Hampshire I felt like I could actually learn how to ski without being humiliated by a relative that does not have a cold heart.
The bunny trail was not too steep and I wedged my feet and pushed off. I am skiing. I am laughing. I am smiling. I swoosh and start to relax as my skis take me down the bunny slope. My brother Joe smiles and shouts, "You're doing great, Kathy! See, skiing is fun, isn't it?"
"Yes! It's fantastic!" I stop looking at my feet and start looking around at the other happy skiers.
"Now, I will teach you how to turn from left to right. You have to lean your body to the side you want to go. It's easy. We will keep practicing until you get it right. There is no rush.
I am not Ron. I won't bully you. I don't understand why he can be so cold-hearted. Don't let Ron ruin your day. Just don't, Kathy!"
"I won't Joe. Thank you for believing in me!"
"You're a great sister and I do believe in you. Just have fun. That's all I want!"
I can't help but smile at my brother Joe who is a kind-hearted soul and has the patience of a saint. I am grateful to God for this day which at first was so cruel and ended up being so kind.
My sister Ann is waiting at the bottom of the bunny slope with a worried look on her face. I try not to look at her but I can't help it.
I ski over to her and she hugs me. "I am sorry Ron treated you so coldly. He has no patience for you. He has no patience at all. I am happy Joe is teaching you to ski today. Ron should never have taken you to the top of the mountain when you never skied before! It was very cruel of him!"
I started to cry. "Don't cry, Kathy because I will start to cry and Ron will be furious with me. You see, what you experienced today, I experience every day of my life."
"I should feel sorry for you, but I don't. You could have stopped Ron but you did not. You are a coward. I am sorry Ron treats you badly but you have a duty as my sister
to stick up for me. I would have stuck up for you if I had known what a jerk you have for a husband!"
"Please, Kathy. Don't talk about it anymore. Ron will hear us!" Ann wipes away a tear and walks away.
I get in line for the lift at the bunny slope once more. I hear Joe in the distance, "Can you do one alone, Kathy. I will watch. I believe you can. Just try!"
"Yes, Joe I will try."
I went up by myself and got to the top of the bunny slope. I know that for seasoned skiers, this is the easiest slope, but for me it was a major boost to my confidence. "I can do this! It's a piece of cake."
I pushed off and swooshed and turned and before I knew it I was at the bottom of the slope with Joe laughing with me.
"You want to try the next level, Kathy?" Joe asks me.
Joe and I walk over to the intermediate level where we get on a ski lift and it takes up to the middle of Attitash Mountain. I look down and we are up high but not as high as the level Ron took me earlier.
"Take your time and remember what I told you. Wedge your feet and lean side to side. If you have to stop, yell out for me. I will be there for you."
"Okay, let's go."
I did great and all it took was a brother who took the time to believe in me and find my smile on that mountain.