Jeff, Gunnar, Tomas & Pete just minutes afterThe Story Of One Pole Holsen

Jeff, Gunnar, Tomas & Pete just minutes after

The Story Of One Pole Holsen

This day is forever etched in our family book of memories. It was our 4th day on the slopes of Whistler – Blackcomb Mountains. 3 of those days the boys participated in ski school – learning this lifelong skill from various young 20 somethings off “finding themselves” (something I had always wanted to do, but health insurance is low on the priority list for lifestyles such as these). An hour an a half of riding various gondolas and lifts we found ourselves on top of the world. Our legs were itching to fly down, but I made everyone pose for a gazillion pictures first. FINALLY (Geeeeeez, M O M), we began our descent with Pete leading the way. Jeffrey, coming out of nowhere, took over as leader of our pack (he does this a lot in life, generally speaking). He proceeded to lead us directly to a double black diamond with your choice of moguls or a straight down 90 degree angle. All under the watchful eyes of expert skiers riding the dinky chairlift decorating the run. Awesome.

Gunnar, our youngest, was sobbing at the very sight of what was surely his death. Tomas looked on with a “hmm, this will be interesting” attitude, and Jeff didn’t stop to see anything as he began barreling down the moguls. Pete and I quick glanced at each other knowing our fates. He took Gunn over to the steep part and softly guided him with encouraging words about not dying, all while holding a steady snowplow position with a wide zig zagging pattern down the abrupt hill. Tomas went flying down the moguls, bouncing and catching himself over and over again until he made it down, smiling with pride. Jeff made it part way down and wiped out only to lose his skis. Which left me, at the top, lost in my raging utterances, and total fear. Now, I used to ski through moguls no problem, and I enjoyed the rush. That was when I had strong soccer legs and no one else depending upon my well being. “Who on earth will drive the boys all over creation? Who will walk the dog? How will everyone eat a relatively healthy meal if I cannot walk?!?!?” were just some of the completely rational thoughts racing through my mind.

I slowly pushed off:  bump, fly, pivot, snow plow; bump, fly, pivot, snow plow. I made my way to Jeff with both legs still attached to my body, Praise Jesus. He was crying while attempting to get his skis back on. “What in the sam hell were you thinking?!?! You weren’t thinking! You are not in charge! If I break my legs and cannot walk anymore this is your fault!” was what came shooting from my lips. Needless to say, my presence was not helpful to either of us. It was, nonetheless, required.  We tried for several hours (minutes) to get his skis clicked back in place, to no avail. The lack of engaged skis, the 90 degree incline, and the sweat dripping from our brows were not conducive to both of us making it down on our legs. I told Jeff to sit down. “This will be an awesome sledding experience, goddammit! Now sit on your ass, and down you go!”  He was still as angry as I was, and in typical Jeff fashion he threw something. His poles looked lovely flying through the air in the opposite direction of one another. One became lost to the mountain forever. It’s probably still there, stuck in a treetop. One was recovered and eventually used to help Jeff ski to the shop at the bottom of the hill to get a new one. 

After watching Jeff high tail it down the hill, losing small pieces of his anger with each bump, I started down. I traveled carrying an extra set of skis, with a red face, little obtainable skill, and a strong and steady stream of curse words I wasn’t even aware I knew. I met up with my family, who knew better than to say anything based on my general harried appearance. We skied to the lodge, walked in and sat down in silent exhaustion. Much needed hot chocolate and coffee was distributed accordingly (by me – I mean, who would’ve done that had my I lost my legs to the mountain?……. still too soon to let my anger go). Pete took it upon himself to start the conversation. In a gentle, fatherly way he reminded us (Jeff) of what happens when a 9 year old who just learned to ski AND thinks he knows everything about life because he was born thinking this way, decides to take charge and lead the way (without being invited to do so) on one of the largest mountain ranges in the world.  After several drinks from warm mugs, Tomas coined our morning adventure with “And that’s the story of One Pole Holsen.”

I decided to leave my anger in my empty coffee mug. It sat uncomfortably at the end of the long wooden table, anxiously waiting for the dishwashers to pick it up and clean it out. We walked back out to the fresh air, warm sun, and soft snow. One Pole Holsen followed the rest of the day, and is reminded often that he is never allowed to lead us. Especially on a mountain.



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