Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on August 25, 2021
First published in the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Blog…
Many years ago, I took golf lessons locally and really loved it. In exchange for homemade chocolate chip cookies, I received one-hour lessons once a week for one summer. Such a deal! I likely could not broker that today if I tried. I even have my own clubs, which have maybe been dusted off once in twenty years. But growing up, golf was always for people who had more money than we did. Golf was not accessible to me until I was older, but I still found a golf pro willing to be paid in cookies! Geoff has golfed from an accessible golf cart a handful of times, but he doesn’t love it. Truth be told, he didn’t love golf when he could stand up, from what he says, so I imagine sitting down to play would not suddenly be amazing. But there are sports he still loves, like skiing, biking, and fishing, which we can do pretty easily as a family. The skiing is only made affordable because he works at our local mountain, and family passes are an essential perk.
So, when our daughter recently told us she was interested in playing more golf, we initially thought she meant mini golf. Who doesn’t like to play mini-golf? Even Geoff will play that from time to time, but our local course is a little rough with several sections of stairs. We’ve done it as a family, but I made a promise we would wait until the kids are older to be more helpful. “No, Mom,” she says, “real golf, like on greens with carts and stuff.”
And she is very serious, so we looked around for the golf set someone gave her years ago. It was totally made for toddlers, really, but she remembered how much she loved it. We watched her set it up in grass that had not been mowed in two weeks, figuring if she really wants to play golf, she will figure out how to play golf, show us she is serious about it, and maybe next summer we can get her some lessons somewhere. She loves soccer and skiing too and has dabbled with softball and swimming. But maybe golf will fit into her lifestyle as she grows older, a real lover of lifetime sports, and she doesn’t even know it yet.
Despite the lack of Geoff’s golf expertise, he is a natural coach with a natural coaching parenting style. He has truly appreciated this summer with our kids, both of us really, recognizing these summers where they want to be hanging out with us, their parents, are certainly limited as they grow older. So, I watched, slightly hidden from view, while my three nuclear family members worked on their golf game from a shady spot on our lawn during a very hot afternoon. He patiently encouraged them and gave feedback about stance and swing, about where to look ahead as if these were real golf clubs and not formed by plastic molds for a five-year-old. He is such a good father, especially when it comes to helping them find and follow their passions, probably because his spinal cord injury forced him to find his at such a young age. That’s the thing about Geoff’s injury– he has never looked at it as taking away from his life. If anything, he focuses on the positive and the impact he has on others, including his children. His daughter wants to try golf. Ok, well, let’s try golf, just as long as it doesn’t overlap with the ski season. His son wants to go fishing at our local pond at 7 pm? Ok, well, let’s go fish, and when our son catches a bullfrog with legs the size of his sister’s golf clubs, he takes a picture and sends it home for us to see.
That is summer in a nutshell for our family. A slower pace of life for a few months, which sadly is now coming to a rapid end as school begins on August 31. We are working on a booster shot for Geoff and our parents, given their ages and the hopes that our children will be fully vaccinated as soon as one becomes available for their age group. Likely, we will all be wearing masks again in the classroom, and if that keeps our COVID numbers under par, learning can still happen on the greens of schools everywhere, no matter the size of our clubs or the strength of our swings. Best of luck to everyone returning to school in America this fall.
Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 11 and 10 respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.