I didn’t remember ever crying during the Olympics. But the 2014 Winter Games were a real doozy for me in the waterworks department. At first I tried to blame it on hormones, but then decided there was just a whole lot of emotion in that final week of coverage.
The personal stories of a few athletes who had persevered against all odds really got to me. First was Noelle Pikus-Smith‘s surprising second comeback for a silver medal in the women’s skeleton. Then came the story of world-class swimmer Jessica Long, a double amputee and winner of two Paralympic gold medals, born in Russia and adopted by an American couple. Last was a preview of Unbroken, Angelina Jolie’s film of 1936 Olympian Louis Zamperini’s harrowing life story. And the message from all: Never give up.
In the spirit of the Winter Games, I’m skiing this weekend with friends in the Colorado Rockies. At the Denver airport, I was reminded of a teary night there two decades ago when my son Harry was five years old.
Harry, his dad Ken, and I were on our way to meet friends for a ski vacation in Steamboat Springs. From Denver we were catching a commuter plane to Steamboat. We already had our boarding passes, so I didn’t bother checking in at the gate. Had I done that, I would have learned that those flights boarded downstairs. Instead, we stayed upstairs and missed our flight.
There were two more flights that night, but both were over-sold. The woman at the counter said there was a chance we could get on the next plane. She told me to stay close to the gate. It was the end of a long day, and I couldn’t hold back the tears. I did not want to spend the night in a hotel without our luggage. I walked back to Ken and Harry to explain my screw-up and the bleak outlook.
That’s when Harry said, “Never give up, Mom. You can never give up.”
I wiped my cheeks and bent down to give him a hug. “You’re right, Harry. I should never, ever give up.”
“Good work, Harry,” Ken said, patting him on the back.
And somehow, don’t ask me how, we did end up getting on the next flight. And I gave Harry the credit. Now, as then, there is nothing like encouragement from my son.
And, no, I am not crying right now.