Jumping the Wake

My mother wanted to me to learn to water ski but I didn't want to learn. At the time, I thought she wanted me to be something other than the bookworm I was. Looking back, I think she just wanted to share something she loved with me. The first time I tried I was only five. I still remember sitting in the water and the way my feet felt in the tight rubber fittings of the skis. I shivered as I held onto the rope and listened carefully when I was told to let go of it immediately if I fell.

The boat started and I came up out of the water but flew forward, face first into the water and I held onto the rope for fear that I would be left out in the middle of the lake. When the boat finally stopped and I came up, I was choking on lake water and tears.

Every year after that, my mother insisted I try again and every year I failed. I didn't want to ski and I hated her for making me.

When I was 12, I looked her in the eye and told her that I wouldn't try anymore. "You can't make me!", I said in the most defiant tone I could muster.

She made me.

I sat in the water, skis perfectly upright, rope between them, knees and arms slightly bent - I knew everything I was supposed to do - and when the boat took off, I came up out of the water with ease.

I was skiing.

I watched as my mother threw her arms into the air and began screaming joyfully and I waited until she made eye contact with me and when she did, I let go of the rope and drifted slowly down into the water. It was an act of rebellion.

As I climbed into the boat she yelled,  "Why did you let go?"

"I proved to you I could do it and now I don't ever have to do it again."

She never asked me to ski again.

My parents retired to their lake home when I graduated from high school and I spent the summer before college there. One quiet weekday afternoon, my mother and I were sitting on the dock and I turned to her and said, "I want to go skiing."

She turned to me, "Really?"

"Yeah, let's do it."

I spent the rest of the summer skiing, eventually learning to ski slalom. The picture up there is me, taken that summer.

A couple of summers ago, when Miguel was 9, he told me he wanted to learn to ski while we were at our friends' cabin. I was in the water with him and told him all the important things - keep your skis straight, keep the rope between them, hold on tight but let go if you fall. He shivered and nodded and did as he was told. When he was ready, the boat took off and so did he. He popped right out of the water and never stopped. I threw my hands in the air and screamed and when he was a small dot in the distance I thought of my mother and cried.

This past summer, we spent our vacation at our friends' cabin and Miguel skied almost every day. He no longer remains behind the boat. He moves from side to side, easily jumping the wake. My mother would have been so proud of him and I think she would have been proud of me too. After all, I taught him everything he knows.

Of course, everything I learned about skiing I learned from her.