Written by Kathy Peterson Tini
Some of you might remember a “little” article I wrote for the Gazette in March of 2010. It had the same title and ended with a bucket list. Since then so much has changed and Chester will not stop bugging me to write the sequel. So, here goes! (Grab your glass of wine – it’s a bit long!) Let’s start with where I ended and see where that takes us!
Dance skate again
Make orthopedic appointment (but no knee replacement) – Done
Make foot doctor appointment – Done
Lose 20 pounds – working
Buy Edeas – working
Attend Skate Reflections Extravaganza in 2011
I did come home and immediately made the appointment with the doctor. I also started skating on a regular basis but really ripped my knee during the Pacifica Fox Trot just a month later. So, I started physical therapy and injections but all to no avail. I ended up having my knee scoped in June, 2010. My foot also decided to act up and two foot surgeries followed in August and again in October. But, I did try to get back on skates in November and found I could tolerate the boot and so I started rolling once again. A former skating student of mine in the 60’s, and now a coach, Linda Weaver, asked if I was ready to compete. I so laughed at the thought and told her that wasn’t ever going to happen! Silly rabbit! That takes care of items #1 and #2 on my bucket list.
As to # 3 – well, I did join Weight Watchers and lost 5 pounds – then found them – then lost them – then found them... well – you get the picture. Moving right along …
I made the trip to Donora in March 2010 and David Ripp got me all fixed up with my Edea boots and new everything else! Now all I had to do was come home and get used to this new feel. Item #4 complete!
With all this now behind me I was quite ready to attend the Extravaganza 2011 and excited to be rolling. I hadn’t really used the new skates yet as I was not quite ready to make the leap to the higher heel. I headed for Florida a bit early and had a wonderful time skating at Gail Keicher –Todaro’s rink. I met some lovely skaters! I also skated at Castleberry with my friend, David Terpstra and, again, met more wonderful skaters. I then skated Skate Reflections Coffee Club and met even more new friends. We had a wonderful time “shadow” skating the Gold Dances! It was exhilarating to be doing those
dances and not care about a double lean, a flat edge, or a pattern! Just sheer fun! On the down side, however, I was sad to not be able to skate with Bob Adams and show him how far I had come in just one short year. If you remember, he wanted to skate with me at the first Extravaganza when I didn’t even trust standing up! Bob was and continues to be sorely missed.
The Extravaganza started and if you’ve never attended you have no idea of how exciting it is to see all those skaters hit the floor. We had a blast, as usual, and so many more new friends were made. The highlight of my week was skating the last dance time with David Ripp and doing gold dances to great applause. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to get my head out the door when we left – not to mention the cloud I was floating on. Chester thought David and I should team up and get ready for Regionals. I made the comment, “not in this lifetime” as competition wasn’t anything I would ever consider. Chester said, “But you could win!” and again I came back with a “not going to happen” comment. A woman who I didn’t know – but was standing with our group – made a disparaging comment to me about my attitude and with my attitude I’d never win anyway. The audacity! I didn’t know her and she didn’t realize I was skating on a reconstructed foot and a knee that shouldn’t have been holding me! The nerve!
We also got to go to New Port Richey and I got a chance to work on the International Harris Tango – I was strictly an American skater. My friend, Bobbi Jackson, admonished me for not knowing it and told me I needed to go home and take lessons. I told her when I felt I was a real skater I would. She said, “Honey, you are a real skater now!” I’ve told Bobbi since then that her words turned my life around – in more ways than one!
I returned to Pennsylvania on a mission – to find a coach to teach me the International dances – just for fun though! I still didn’t want to worry about hips, leans, patterns, etc. Linda Weaver had asked me to call on my return from Florida which I did. She wanted to talk to me and I went over to her rink and she was giving a lesson to Ricky Smith. I thought it was a set up since Ricky Smith was the person she mentioned I should skate with back in November when I told her I’d never compete again. I put on my new skates (David Ripp made me promise when I got home I would never wear my old skates again!) and rolled around on a very different type of floor ... concrete with a coating. The new boots felt strange and I was tempted to grab the old ones and get out and try what I had learned in Florida. Linda asked me to skate with Ricky to show him about bridging – there are just some things we never lose! Before the day was out Ricky and I had done the Viennese and the International Harris! We did steps 11-13 so beautifully I needed a cigarette afterwards! And I don’t smoke! What a day. I asked Linda if she thought he would skate my lessons with me if I took them from her. She assured me he would be most happy – especially given it would give him the chance to do the gold dances.
Okay – long story short. (I know ... thank goodness!) Ricky and I eventually became real partners at the end of April and decided to skate Novice A team dance (thank you to Linda Weaver for her belief in me and her vision with Ricky and me). We worked very hard to try and be ready for Regionals. Unfortunately, the harder we worked the more my knee gave way and my foot screamed! The good news was that from the time I got home from Florida until the day we skated Regionals I had lost 23 pounds so check off another item of my bucket list! (And we did skate Regionals but unfortunately were the only team.)
A week before Regionals I saw a top orthopedic surgeon and he couldn’t believe I was even walking on my leg let alone skating Regionals in a week. I knew by that time that a total knee replacement was the only answer so surgery was scheduled. He did not think there was any way I could make it to Nationals to skate 5 weeks later but gave me a great big hug and was impressed with my determination.
Now let me say, here, that I’m not a religious person. My relationship with my God is a very personal thing, but I have to tell you that from the time I started skating in February I have thanked Her every day for giving me this passion back in my life. Once we got Regionals out of the way, I didn’t try to bargain—but I did ask Her for 3 things:
1. Please get me to Nationals
2. don’t let me fall
3. and please don’t let us get last place!
I didn't think that was too much to ask for, as hard as I had worked! Well, you’ll never believe this , I’m still shocked, but my prayers were not only answered BUT we made finals! My friend says that the look on my face was priceless when they announced the finalist – the shock... and then the agony. I had never asked God to get me through a final event! And the next morning – the day of the finals, I got out of bed and fell against the wall. My knee was done. I cried for my partner as I hated the thought of scratching so I taped more than I had ever taped my leg, iced it, and took a pain pill – which I never take.
What I’m about to write might seem a bit melodramatic but I was in so much pain that the adrenaline never kicked in for finals. I got on the floor and skated the Rhythm Blues – which was one of the hardest for me to do given my left leg not holding me. I let the applause, encouragement, and love of all my friends in the audience carry me through. The second dance was my most dreaded as it had the most repetitions. But I started listening to the music and realized it was my Mother’s favorite hymn – On Eagle’s Wings – and knew she and her girlfriends had front row seats up in heaven and were getting me through. Although Ricky says I kept asking each time around, “Are we done yet?” The final song – Over the Rainbow – was how I felt with this dream like moment and I totally went with the music and little else – mistakes be damned!
Okay. So that’s the story dear readers. We got 6th in Novice A Team Dance and I couldn’t be happier.
Rick, my wonderful partner, watches our video and comments on all the mistakes. I watch it and just smile for all the joy I feel in returning to roller skating. I love that my friends, Alan McNamee, Leroy Hicks, and Dan Barber and I all share in the agony of age and physical deterioration but rejoice in what we accomplished this year. And we are all determined to make this coming year even better – returning once again to that national skating floor! I don’t need a new bucket list but I have learned that the minute that word “NEVER” slips out of my mouth I quickly add “…… say Never!”
And yes, dear friends, I can’t wait to see all of you at the Extravaganza in 2012 – reservations and registration completed!