When I was too little to remember most of it, Mom and Dad and five other families rented all six cabins at a resort on Green Lake. The other families had kids, too, but they were teens, athletic and strong, ideal students for Dad who liked to teach new water ski stunts each year.
I do remember this: standing on the edge of the beach when two of those skiers, Jody and Barb, sat down in front of me.
“You like shoulder rides with your dad, don’t you?” said Jody. I nodded. “Your daddy wants to give you a shoulder ride skiing.”
I shook my head.
Barb said, “When you’re done, we’ll give you a Snickers.”
“Yummy!” Jody laughed. I liked her laugh. “And you’ll get to ski like Barb. I bet you liked watching her ski.”
Barb stayed ready to ski all day. She wore a strapless terry cloth cover over her bikini, fashionable beachwear for the 1970’s. She was the one Dad assigned to the top when he taught the crew to make a pyramid on the water.
“How about this,” Barb said. She unrolled the fabric at the end of a small pole revealing an American flag the size of her hand. Barb held that flag up when she stood at the top of the pyramid. “You could wave the flag.”
That sounded fun. I said, “Okay.”
As soon as I agreed, Jody and Barb rallied the other adults to get me to the water before I changed my mind.
Someone put me in my life jacket and led me to Dad who was waist high in the water getting ready. He looped the nylon straps of his life jacket into each buckle. The spaces between each strap showed the hairs on his belly.
Dad put on his skis. The driver moved our Glastron away from the shore while Barb fed us the rope. Jody waved. Dad picked me up and positioned me next to him as he squatted in the water. I stared at Dad’s shins and the bright orange bindings hiding Dad’s feet. Dad held me close, keeping me upright. I gripped the flag in my hand.
Once the rope was tight, Dad said, “Hit it,” and the engine roared, and we were pulled to stand on the lake’s surface.
The splash of the water hitting my face surprised me. Dad skied steady in the middle of the wake, holding the handle of the rope in one hand and me in the other. Dad hoisted me onto his chest so I faced the waves we left behind. I put my toes in the bottom buckle of Dad’s life jacket and started the climb with my face flat against the wet of the Dad’s neck.
Dad grunted under my weight. He yelled, “You’re fine.” The boat moved fast. The engine and the whoosh of Dad’s skis gliding on the water filled my head.
I focused on those buckle steps. I secured my toes on each strap, feeling the excitement of climbing a family oak. I knew, even then, all I needed to do was hang on. Dad and the others would do the rest. Dad let me wiggle, twist, grab, poke, turn, grab, poke, wiggle to get my fanny on his neck.
I settled at the top of our pyramid, my feet on either side of his face. In the boat, when Barb and Jody cheered, I knew I had done something magnificent. I raised my hand in the air, and finished with the flag waving in the wind.
Writing with the writers at Yeah Write.