Super Seniors

Recently my folks were out for a visit.  They came via train with my sister Penny and her husband, Rob.  I believe this was Penny’s idea and I loved the idea of having everyone out to Montana.  I am not sure I would have been willing to board a train for an overnight sleep in coach seats, especially with my parents. I have heard it is not so bad, and they did arrive in excellent spirits. Still, I thought my sister was crazy. Apparently, I was wrong! I had quite a lot to learn about just what’s possible even when traveling as Super Seniors!

On the first day of the visit, while Penny and Rob relaxed at The Hay Moon Resort, my folks ventured out with CrisMarie and me to the top of Whitefish Mountain.  I went to purchase tickets for the gondola ride to the top, pulling out enough cash to cover tickets for two adults and two seniors.  The woman at the window took a look at my folks and asked if either were over 80.  They both qualified, my mom, Bernie, is 82 and my Dad, John is 90.

“Well, they are Super Seniors and they ride for free!”

My dad was thrilled.

He proudly shared this new honor with anyone willing to listen, including the chairlift people, who were more concerned about helping him safely on and off the lift than his Super Senior status. The gondola ride up was soon replaced with the chairlift ride down so my folks could enjoy the fresh air and swing their legs freely. As I spent the next few days with them, I found myself gaining a much greater appreciation for just what a great description Super Seniors is for these two adventuresome people.

The next day, we drove up to Logan’s Pass in Glacier National Park. I wasn’t to sure what we would be able to do up there. The trail options were a bit more demanding than I thought my folks could handle.  We opted to give the Hidden Lake trail a try.  This trail is only 1.5 miles, ascending 800 feet in elevation. It is covered mostly via a boardwalk, however, the boardwalk has no guardrail, and there is a significant incline, meaning there are steps that can be anywhere from the standard 6 inches to a foot and not always level. My folks assured me they would take care of themselves. Of course, I was worried anyway.

Penny, CrisMarie and I took off up the trail, with Rob, John and Bernie walking behind.  As the gap between us increased, we looked back and could see that we needed to reevaluate the plan.  My folks had gone a pretty fair distance from the Visitor Center, but the going was slow, and they realized it wasn’t going to be a trip that was in their best interests to continue.  Still, the scenery was amazing. So they wanted to find a rock to sit on and relax.  Apparently, they had come prepared with some books and a sketch pad (with only one pencil). We got them settled on some rocks, and off we went.  They assured us they’d wait for us to return and we’d help them on the way back.

We enjoyed the rest of the hike, seeing some goats and big horn sheep. We were heading back when we realized we’d been a bit longer then we had planned.  I took off at a jog to get back to let my folks know we were on our way.  As I got back to where I should have been able to see them, I could see they were gone. I started moving much faster.  I listened for sirens, looking further ahead for some assistance.  When I got back to the Visitor Center, I found my Super Senior folks shopping.  They had made their way back just fine.

I apologized for taking so long, asking how it had been. They laughed. They had had a grand time.  They showed me sketches they had done of each other and of the scenery.  When they had gotten tired, they simply asked someone for assistance getting off the rocks and back to the path.  Indeed, the stairs going back were a bit more challenging but they had simply taken one step at a time, supporting each other down. Bernie would go down one step supporting John. Then she’d take the next step.  Slowly, but very effectively, they worked their way back to the Visitor Center.

“We knew we’d be just fine if we helped each other and had no need to get anywhere fast.”  I sure wish I applied that wisdom to my life more often, but I guess that’s how they got to be Super Seniors!!

Apparently, all my worries were for nothing.  My Super Senior parents may look fragile and have to go slower than the average person, but they sure do know how to make the best of their time together.

I can only hope that if I make it to Super Senior Status I can live with as much creativity, purpose and adventure as they do!