Gary Brown: Skier’s advice makes growing old less of an uphill climb

Gary Brown

Five guys in our 50s and 60s were sitting outside at the base of a mountain at a Colorado ski resort lodge eating lunch in the sun when our sixth guy showed up late. We had wondered what happened to him after he got separated from us. But we were not worried enough to delay eating.

It turns out Cliff had been skiing late in the morning with a guy he met in a lift line, Pete, and Pete’s friend, Tom. In fact, Tom still was with him, an aged face looking out through goggles, and he was shouting something insightful from the line forming to go back up the mountain.

“Gotta keep moving,” he said. “Just keep going.”

And with that, he was gone, riding back up on the ski lift. He had offered his ski-by advice and again was on the move.

 It was left for Cliff to put the advice into context.

“I met his friend Pete in a lift line,” said Cliff. “He asked me if I was skiing by myself and I told him I was with a group of guys. He said ‘We used to have a group. We’re the last two left. I’m Pete and I’m 73.’ Then he pointed to this other guy and said, ‘That’s Tom, he’s 84, and he’s had two knee operations.’”

After he sat down to eat his own lunch, and had chided us about skiing longer that morning than his group, Cliff explained that Tom had invited him to ski with him and his friend — the last of a group of 100 people who used to ski together. He had told Cliff to “follow me, we’ll cruise near trees,” which he said, “is where the good snow is.”

“He didn’t ski fast, but I tell you, Tom was a good skier. He was the best technical skier I’ve ever skied with,” Cliff said. “The other one was not bad, either.”

More than eight decades of life and two knee replacements hadn’t diminished Tom’s eagerness to ski. Nor had his own years lessened Pete’s desire to accompany his friend, long after they no longer qualified as a “group.”

For the rest of the trip, we kidded Cliff about “skiing with Pete and Tom” whenever he became separated from our group. But there was a serious message that had resulted from their meeting.

“Those guys gave me a whole new outlook on life. No more whining about aches and pains. No more feeling old,” said Cliff.

He vowed to “keep moving.” He’d keep going.

“Twenty years from now, I’m going to be skiing with Pete and Tom,” Cliff said with a smile.

“Tom will be 104.”

Contact Gary Brown at gary.brown@cantonrep.com