My son George is a Paralympian. This will be his 4th Paralympics. He’s had an interesting life: can’t walk so well, but boy, can he ski.
In the Salt Lake Paralympics, my son won a Silver and a Bronze. I’m hoping that this Paralypmics – his last, as he’s 37 and really an old coot – he’ll get a gold. He’s been training for it for years. I don’t know if you are aware of what athletes do to prepare for the Paralympics, but they train for at least 8 hours a day for years and years. It’s their lives: total dedication to being the best – a passion, a drive that is single focused and immutable.
George has been my hero. He has never let anyone stop him. I have a visual memory of him when we were on a ski holiday in Austria when he was 13. On his way to the restroom, he was hanging on to his ski poles and dragging his body across the deck of a chalet restaurant where we went for lunch. I knew there was a restroom just inside the door where we were sitting, a few feet away. I went over to my son and asked him why he didn’t just go inside the door?
“I can’t, Mom. There is a sign that says ‘no ski poles allowed.'” And he could only stay upright by using his poles as canes.
George has just prevailed. Nothing stops the kid (I can’t imagine where he got his persistance from). He’s lived with this dream since he was 2, when his father would tie a rope around his waist and pull him up some hills so he could ski down. I am so proud of him.
I’m also proud of the folks on his team. Over the years I’ve met several of them. One of the women on the team was born without one of her legs. At George’s wedding, I found her surrounded by a bunch of children, examining her leg that she had taken off and held in her hands, showing the children all of the neat things it could do – even better than a real leg. The children were transfixed. Really – when was the last time you had an Olympic athlete holding her prosthetic leg aloft, explaining how the joints worked?
No matter what color his medal – or even if he doesn’t place – George is Gold in my book. He’s my hero, and I get to be the proud Mom.