A Water Skiing Story by Cathy Reineke
My younger brother, Bob, can do anything. Only 18 months separates an uncoordinated, difficult- to-balance-on-one-foot, scared-of-heights woman from the perfect hand-eye coordinated, scared-of-nothing brother I always envy.
At sixteen, as a gawky teen, I determined I would beat him by water skiing on one ski before he did. I spent one summer dragging myself through all types of conniptions and contorted efforts while my father faithfully and patiently flung me the towrope for yet another try.
The next summer, I still had not mastered the art of slalom skiing. My good friend, Steve, lived next to us at the lake and his parents had the faster boat. My brother, knowing absolutely no fear of striking the water face first, declared his intention to be on that one ski behind Steve’s boat by the end of this inaugural ride of the summer season.
In my usually doubting sister style, I scoffed at him. It was my duty as his older sister to tell him what he could not accomplish. Bob sat on the dock and reached up to grab the towrope I threw to him. In defiance of my stated limitation, he threw aside the second ski and put his right foot into the slalom ski while dangling his left foot in the water.
I turned to my friend driving the boat and said, “Look at this. He’s going face plant.” My laughter disguised my underlying uneasiness that maybe, just maybe, he would somehow achieve that mastery of the slalom ski.
“Hit it” I yelled and felt the full throttle of the motor as we tore away from the dock. I watched in expectation. My brother stood up and began a wild wobble on top of that one ski. Over the course of 100 yards, I keep letting out whoops and saying to my friend, “Oh, he’s almost down. Oh he’s back up again.”
And then I saw the look of determination come across Bob’s face. I had seen it many times. At five years old, he climbed on my new bike and sailed down the driveway before I had learned to ride it myself. He bombed straight down steep headwalls of ski slopes and shushed straight up in front of my mother and grandmother with the devil’s grin just to watch them back up as they doubted he could stop in time.
This was no different. He grabbed the rope with a fierce pull, stood upon the ski, positioned his foot solidly into the back stirrup, and then, without effort, he cut back across the wake. He came way out to the side, and there again was that devilish grin. Then he fell back, and jumped the wake across to the other side. All the while, the impish smile on his face grew.
Is a daredevil born or bred? We came from the same gene pool. I never did learn to slalom ski.
My brother turned 60 this year. Each day I thank him for teaching me that when I tell him he can’t do something, he has another opportunity to prove me wrong!
photos courtesy sheetbrains & toofarnorth