Student has strong desire to turn 85 | VailDaily.com
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Student has strong desire to turn 85

Allen R. Smith

Early one winter morning, I checked the computer terminal for my day’s assignments. At 10 o’clock that morning, I was booked for a one-hour private lesson with an “84-year-old man from New Jersey who is concerned about getting hurt.”I’ve learned never to trust what the computer states. The “client” could have just as easily been eight 4-year-olds from New Hampshire or a 48-year-old woman from New York.Sure enough, at exactly 10 o’clock, a slight, elderly gentleman approached the ski school desk dressed in a pair of ill-fitting pants, an old ski parka and rental boots that appeared to be three sizes too big.I thought to myself, “Well, this is going to be interesting. Since he really does appear to be 84-years-old, I’ll just walk him around the beginner’s area for an hour and call it a day.”The receptionist introduced me to Mark, a businessman from New Jersey. Indeed, even at 84, Mark was still getting up at five o’clock each morning to help his sons run the plumbing supply company that he started over 50 years ago.I asked him if he had ever skied before and he proceeded to tell me about all of the times he had skied over the past 70 years. “I’ve skied all over the world,” he said. “But at my age, I’m very concerned about injuring myself.”After getting acquainted with his equipment, Mark asked me to push off so that he could follow at a safe distance. Miraculously, he stayed right behind me until we reached the bottom of the beginner’s chairlift.With each passing run, the smile on his face grew wider and wider. However, near the end of our allotted hour, I could sense Mark’s mood changing a bit for the worse.I asked him, “Is everything OK? Are we going too fast?”He replied, “You know, I’ve forgotten just how much fun skiing was and how much I’ve missed it. I’ve spent far too much time working and not enough time skiing.””Well, now that you’re 84,” I said, “What’s stopping you from getting back out here more often?””A strong desire to be 85!”- Allen R. Smith, VailVail, Colorado


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