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A Giant Leap for Grandma
Watch me, watch me, Grandma!” Sam pleaded with an eight-year-old’s urgency. And despite the pulls of two other grandsons equally bent on seizing my attention, I managed to go outside and watch Sam climb onto the trampoline in his backyard.
The trampoline is now Sam’s passion. He dashes out to jump on it the minute he gets home from school, barely pausing for his usual after-school snack. And he’s on that trampoline until darkness sets in.
As requested, I watched my redheaded, little fireball of a grandson perform his leaps, lunges and new tricks. I alternately hid my eyes in terror and cheered for Sam, whose courage made my cowardice all the more striking.
I have never been brave. I used to blame it on the culture in which I came of age, one in which girls were not encouraged to be athletic. I certainly recall the hideous gym suits we wore,
complete with puffy bloomers, and how notions of girls playing hockey or lacrosse were nonexistent. Instead, we did calisthenics several times a week and were told to “Keep your figures lovely, girls.”
For all of my life, I’ve shied away from sports, partly from intimidation and partly from disinterest. It’s hard to love what you’ve never known.
But watching Sam on the trampoline on the kind of brilliantly sunny, cool day when anything seems possible made me feel a stab of envy for this grandson’s marvelous ease with his body and his pride in testing it.
And then Sam tossed out the invitation he has so often:
“Grandma, come on the trampoline with me.” My instant reaction was to shrug off the offer with a joke. “Now can you imagine Grandma on that thing? I’m way too old. . . .”
But this time, Sam persisted. And this time, my defenses crumbled.
Maybe it was the weather or Sam’s delightful earnestness or the realization that life is short—and getting shorter every day.
And maybe, just maybe, I could master a jump or two.
Step one was, literally, a step. I had to get onto the trampoline that suddenly seemed impossible to ascend. But with Sam as my trusty guide, I managed to climb aboard. And just that much seemed a remarkable leap of faith for a self-confessed wimp.
Elated, Sam became my gentle, patient teacher. Even as I insisted that I was getting off, that this thing was way too dangerous for the likes of me,my eight-year-old cheerleader spurred me on. “Just try one jump!” Sam begged. “You won’t fall. I promise.”
And those blue eyes looked at me so imploringly that I somehow screwed up my almost nonexistent spunk and literally took the leap. Into the air my body went for a split second, and oh my,
it was glorious. I think I shrieked in both delight and relief that I had crossed this physical boundary.
I landed safely and in time to see Sam absolutely beaming. The
“I told you so” went unspoken, but it was palpable nonetheless.
I’d love to say that I spent the rest of the day perfecting my trampoline form, but that would be fudging. I did execute a couple more jumps to the delightful sound of Sam’s cheers and hoots of joy. And I did try to memorize the feeling of pure exhilaration and freedom as I let my legs take me on this new journey.
But I was far too prudent to test the limits of this unlimber body,
whatever the spirit yearned to prove.
Sam was disappointed when I retreated back inside, promising to watch his antics from the kitchen window. But I honestly felt a new spring in my step as I walked away from my testing ground. And I could swear that I’d grown an inch or two.
As with so many glorious moments in life, this one was unplanned and surely unexpected. And that made it all the richer. Suddenly, I was a grandmother who had jumped on a trampoline. I had freed some ancient sense of limits, some longburied insecurities.
And with any luck, I’ll be back on that trampoline before long, Sally Friedman
jumping higher and higher in both real and metaphoric terms.
¬2005. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrates Grandmothers by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, & Lori Brystan. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street,
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.