​Soaking Up Summer

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on July 22, 2022 # Travel, Lifestyle

Geoff and sonWhile family vacations may not always be easy, the time spent away from home, especially during the summer playbook of our life, is always worth the effort. With every mile we tick off on the odometer, I feel my stress level and blood pressure from the previous school year drop lower. So that by the time we arrive in northern Michigan 18 hours later, we are ready to embrace people and conversation and a beautiful “lakescape” again. With Covid, it had been three whole years since we had last joined forces with Geoff’s family reunion. There was a tremendous amount of fun to be had no doubt on Cousin Lisa’s Lake, also known as Elk Lake to the rest of Michigan, located in lovely Elk Rapids, but shhh, please don’t tell anyone.

Geoff has fond memories of visiting his Uncle Al and Aunt Viv here, along with countless other relatives who traveled north from Ohio to find cool breezes and blue water. Where we live in NH is also an escape for many living in the Boston area or southern New England in general, so we understand the draw to beautiful places with cold, refreshing water and dry sunshine; only we live here all the time. And as we arrived shortly after a stellar 10 PM sunset, we understood our five days would pass altogether quickly and sooner than we would like, the car would be loaded up and headed East again.

But how we filled those waking hours! There was fishing and soccer and swimming and jet skiing and delicious meals back and forth between Cousin Lisa and Cousin David’s respective homes about a mile apart down the lakeshore. There was kayaking and playing catch and nerf wars, thanks to the elderly neighbors who keep an arsenal (and about a million nerf bullets) for when their grandchildren arrive. There was boating, floating, and swimming. I even snuck away to read my book on the dock, careful not to be “missing” for too long, but also knowing no one would begrudge me, a busy working mom and full-time life coordinator, a little time to read.

geoff and daughterGeoff’s sister Allison, our children’s Auntie, was also able to join us from Germany, enthusiastically making memories with her niece and nephew, also realizing this is perhaps the last time she will be the taller of the three. Uncle Brian, Auntie’s husband, sadly could not be with us as his father had just passed away, so he remained near his mother. There had been other losses within the family since we had last all been together, and those were also not lost on any of us. But we took the time to talk and share stories and watch the youngest member of the family, toddle around, letting anyone hold his hand if it meant stairs were in his future. It even came up in conversation with our daughter later before bed. “Mom, how did dad help us to do the stairs when we were little like that?” She was tired as she had been Baby Brooks, primary hand holder, that day.

“He didn’t,” I said simply, “that’s why our house was full of baby gates for so long, until your brother figured out how to scale them, and then we were really in trouble.” She smiled, but I could tell she was thinking hard about how her dad managed when she and her brother were little like Brooks.

We ended the week with a birthday celebration for Geoff’s mom Joyce, who was 79 years young. She reminded the kids about how she was an only child and never had a sibling to fight with or play with and how lonely that could be. While our children could not quite relate to the idea of being lonely without the other one, I do believe they left Michigan with a greater appreciation for family. We shared a room together, and the kids slept on the floor, despite there being space in other places in the house for them to sleep. Geoff and I wondered if this might be the “last” time for wanting to stay close to Mom and Dad on a family trip-- or would they continue to stick close together for years to come.

We returned to NH in the middle of the night as there was an old friend’s wedding the very next day. Always grateful to travel and equally grateful to return home safely. And so now we are in the middle of summer. Geoff’s adaptive water-skiing program, Eastern Adaptive Sports, will be featured in my next blog, because, well, it wouldn’t be the summer playbook of our life together without it.

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 12 and 11 respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.