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Summer 99 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

 

By Leslie Fansler, Wife, Mother, and Educator, Amarillo, Texas

This article first appeared in the April 1995 edition of P.S. NEWS!!!

Editor's note: The Fabulous Fansler family lives and works in Amarillo, Texas. Leslie sent this article to me just after Christmas vacation. I think that many of our readers will appreciate the humor and courage it takes to include a child with deafblindness in some of the "normal" activities of family holidays and vacation time. I think you will see that when the whole family makes a commitment to sharing the experience, it can happen. These events may not be without their moments, but I think it is important to remember, from these moments come some of our best memories. Contact Leslie and Keith at

My husband, Keith, and I have always enjoyed snow skiing. We started taking our oldest son, Chance, when he was five. It is an activity that we enjoyed as a family. My sister often skis with us. Our youngest son, Preston, who is deafblind, had ridden snowmobiles with us, but had not been on skis. Keith has always planned for Preston to learn to ski just like his brother, Chance, did. I thought this was a very unrealistic dream on my husband's part.

This year my mother-in-law suggested that we spend Christmas in Red River, New Mexico. We all loved the idea. By the time we left Amarillo for Red River our Christmas trip included members of my family as well as members of my husband's family. Keith had already decided that this was the year for Preston to ski for the first time. I tried to explain to him how crazy this idea really was, but Keith just ignored me!

It took the help of two grandmothers, an aunt, a great uncle and one grandpa (with camcorder in hand) to get us all on skis. Preston took these preparations well. Ski boots are very difficult to walk in. Preston, however, thought they were funny, and I was beginning to think that we could actually do this.

We put Preston's mittens on as we headed to the ski lift, and he started complaining. He became more unhappy as we rode up the mountain. We skied over to a second lift. Chance was falling with every turn and Preston was crying loudly. When we arrived at the second lift I told Keith that we had to give this insanity up. We all got on the second lift and started up to the top. I said a prayer as my sister started giving Chance some pointers on turning. Halfway up Preston got his glove off (finally) and threw it off the ski lift. Then he pulled the other glove off and Keith managed to save it. Preston's whole attitude changed immediately.

By the time we were ready to ski down, he was laughing. I guess he just didn't like gloves, even though he soon had the coldest hands on that mountain. As the day passed we all had a blast and became exhausted. Chance took a class and learned how to turn. Preston started moving his legs back and forth to slide his skis. I was proud of my family. I was also happy that we had found another normal family activity that Preston could be included in.

After we finished up for the day and were preparing to return to our hotel, a man commented to me that Preston was "a tired little boy, he was sleeping sitting up!" It occurred to me that he had not realized that Preston was blind. He thought we were just another regular family out snow skiing with our sons. Boy, had we pulled the wool over his eyes!

Sketch of family skiing

"Our whole skiing family lined up together. A man took our picture! The next day my Me-ma bought it!"

Original illustration by Chance Fansler