Up the stairs or across the miles, love travels well

By Joanne Peterson | Mar 27, 2014

Last year my daughter Lisa and son-in-law Eric participated in the Seattle “Big Climb” charity event, climbing 69 flights (that’s 1,311 steps!) up the Columbia Tower to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I could not imagine attempting such a feat.

I could envision myself laboring up perhaps five or six flights, only to turn around and slink back down, exhausted, pushing against a tide of physically fit uphill climbers, avoiding all eye contact with them.  Yes, Lisa and Eric admitted to being tired when they finished, but they both climbed all 69 flights—and claimed to have enjoyed it.

Of course, what with all their working out, training and participating in the “STP” (Seattle-to-Portland) bike ride last year, I already knew that they work to stay in shape and that they enjoy challenges.  It was no surprise to learn that they planned to sign on for the same stair climb event this year. Would I like to stay with the children while their parents climbed The Tower? Indeed I would.

But then, a few weeks ago, walking downhill on a wet sidewalk, gripping the handle of her daughter’s stroller, Lisa slipped off the edge of the rough walkway and broke a bone in her foot. (She never let go of the stroller.)

Her plans for climbing 69 flights of stairs? Gone in an instant. It became a challenge climbing the flights of stairs at home, wrangling a couple of energetic young children, and keeping up with the demands of her job as a social worker.  She still has several weeks before she is freed from the clumsy boot encasing her foot and lower leg. In her work in a nursing home, Lisa sees serious illness and painful convalescence that put her injury into perspective.

With Lisa’s encouragement, Eric signed up without her for this year’s “Big Climb.” Lisa decided she’d like to go with him and hang out at ground level, at least getting the feel of the event. So, of course, I happily stayed with Adam and Abby.

My grandchildren and I accomplished many important things. We worked together – as usual – on Lego projects, played “Cars” dominos, followed the progress of an exceptionally small ant as it meandered aimlessly across the deck, went for a walk around the block picking dandelions and Lambs’ Ears for a bouquet for Mama, and sat jammed together in the leather chair reading a book about a red hen painting zig-zags on her eggs for Easter.

As I frequently do when I stay with my young grandchildren in West Seattle, I thought of granddaughter Annika, in Idaho, and of how much fun we four would be having together.  I remembered asking Adam last time I went to Idaho whether there was anything he wanted me to tell Annika. “Tell her I love her very much,” he answered. I wish she could have joined us that sunny day of the “Big Climb” and felt the love of her cousins and her grandma.

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