The Case of the Mysterious Ice Dancer

Watching the men’s figure skating during the Olympics always brings back a special moment for me. It was a moment that made me see my dad not as “Dad,” but as a person in his own right. Free and happy. Alone, and milking every last second of pleasure out of his time away from his family, work, definitely his ex-wives, and probably even us  kids.

We were at his folks’ house on Duck Lake. It was winter, and as usual, I was out on the ice, pretending to be a long track skater (I liked the leaning-over, one-arm-behind-the-back while purposefully swinging the other arm skating look). The ice on the lake was black as black could be, because that particular winter, we Michiganders experienced record low temperatures that even kept the snow away. Consequently, the entire lake, which is far from small, had a good six feet or so of ice (or so I was told), and not one flake of snow to be found. You could skate clear across if you wanted to, so that’s what I was practicing to do.

As I got braver and braver,  skating closer toward the center of the lake, I saw in the distance some guy. Some man. He looked like someone from the Olympics. He was spinning and spinning so fast, his arms straight up,  he looked like he was trying to drill himself down into the water. Then, his arms would come down and flare out to slow himself. A leg would rise as he leaned himself forward, parallel to the wet, black, floor he seemed to own. The leg would come down to allow a toe-pick to push himself off a couple times, and then I saw him raise up that leg again as she put his arms up and out at his sides like Superman drawing figures on flat ice. He was fast, and the whole scene was cool.

It was a pure moment. Pure, because I realized when the man started actually skating and making figures that the man was my dad. I believe I was about eight at the time. I’d never seen my dad skate, and he hadn’t taught me to skate. I learned on my own.

I never told dad I saw him that day. Even at that young of an age, I knew that time was his.

The moment,  however, was mine.