Being a teenager with little sports skills was tough. Mainly because despair used to find me fast and I needed teachers with the patience of a saint.
As a kid, I wanted to be able to ski in any lake in the world, but that was proving to be almost impossible. I tried with many professors in lakes and beach resorts and I had given up for good since I just couldn't do it.
Then, one summer, everything changed. We were going to Oklahoma City for a week on a vacation. We wanted to visit the Johnston's and my father, my brother and I were on our way.
Newt and Honey had planned to go to a cabin in Eufala Lake for the weekend. The day we arrived to Eufala, Newt took out a boat and we went for a ride. He asked me if I wanted to ski and I remember saying: I would love to, but I haven't been able to do it even with skilled professors, so I think I'll pass. I remember him saying: that's nonsense. I'll teach you. I said that I was not a good student because I didn't have the patience needed for something like that and I was sure he was going to get mad. I don't recall his exact words, but I remember him saying: try me.
It was almost 30 years ago, but I remember being able to ski barely 15 minutes after Newt started teaching me. I was killing it and gaining confidence rather quickly. I was thankful for Newts patience (and his teaching ability). As I gained confidence, I started asking Newt to speed up the boat because it was a thrill and we got to the point where he said: I think we are going as fast as we should. You have been skiing for a couple of days, so let's take it easy.
I don't know how, but I convinced him of going faster and I started jumping the wake left by the boat. Once we were going fast, I messed up, didn`t jump right and I fell into the water so hard that I started bouncing like a rock in a pond. While bouncing, I lost one ski. When I finally stopped, I raised my head out of the water without knowing that the ski was right behind me and still at great speed. It hit me hard in the head and I took my hand to my head. Uh, oh! blood! This isn't right. When Newt got the boat around he noticed the blood and we rushed to the hospital.
I got 5 stitches. As the doctor was finishing dealing with the wound, he asked: and what is your favorite sport? well, I said, I think that it has to be be water skiing.
Newts patience got me skiing. And that is something I will never forget.
I will always remember Newt and Laura as a very loving couple whose laughter and happiness was contagious.
Rest in Peace, Newt. You will be greatly missed.