You would think as an 86-year-old woman my memories of 45 years ago would be foggy but I can say with all honesty that they are as clear as a bell. I was asked to think of a story around hockey, a story of a simpler time, when people just played for the love of the game. As I thought back, I would say that everything about our life was simple at that time. As a mother of nine children, living in a four-bedroom house we had to keep things simple. There was no fuss, no fancy clothes, no big steak dinners and certainly no hockey tournaments across the country.
Abundance for us was when the winter weather was just right so my husband to keep our backyard rink frozen for the kids. When I look back I really think he built it for us. That rink gave us hours of peace. Every night after dinner we’d ship our boys out back to wear off some energy and get some exercise. If we didn’t send them outside they’d start wrestling in the living room and break something. Our girls would go out the odd time but they usually tried to find a quiet place in the house to do homework or talk on the phone. If one of them was really lucky they’d get the phone to themselves for a solid 15 minutes which was like an eternity back then.
A story that comes to mind is of my youngest daughter. I had always been a stay at home Mom but when she was about three-years-old I went back to work. I always felt guilty about that because I worried that she didn’t get the same time with me that the rest of the kids did. When I used to send the boys out for a skate, I’d keep her in with me. I’d get out her colouring books or barbies and set her up at the table so we could chat about her day. She usually would last about 5 minutes and then she’d ask to go to the window. The only thing she wanted to do was stand on a chair with my arm around her watching her brothers skate through the window.
When I think back, standing at the window with her, forced me to stop what I was doing and give her all of my attention. One day as we stood watching the boys and talking about our day she said, “If you got me skates I could stake too.” I remember telling her she was too young and the boys would be too rough. I gave her a bunch of reasons why I thought it was a bad idea. Then it occurred to me, why couldn’t she skate like the rest of the boys. It was very apparent to me that she didn’t want to play barbies or sit at the table and visit, she wanted to skate.
Not long after I bought her a little pair of skates. She absolutely loved being on the ice and her smile was contagious. I started to wonder why I wasn’t joining her too. I had always loved to skate and I realized I’d spent that last few years watching from the window. She inspired me to lace up my skates and go with her. Her first few times out she looked like Bambi so we found an old chair she could push along the ice to help with her balance. It wasn’t long until she ditched the chair and could skate on her own. I have to say it was much more fun skating beside her than it was being a spectator from the window. Mom’s often do a lot of watching and they forget to play. Although I didn’t pick up a hockey stick, I’ll admit that being on the ice made me feel young again.
When I think back to “When Hockey was Simple”, I think of those years that were so special. That rink that hosted many hockey games also gave me hours of peace and a lifetime of memories.
As a woman in her 80’s, there is a lot of things I miss being able to do because of my age. I would say that skating with my kids and grandkids is one of the things I miss the most. If I could go back, I’d spend less time watching from the window and more time skating. Keep it simple and play more than you watch!
-Written by Allyson Tufts