It happened by accident. It turned out that my sister was going to enroll my nieces in gymnastics. When she went to visit one of the local gyms, she brought our mom along for the ride. When my mom entered L & M Gymnastics, Leroy spotted her. “Ransdell!” he shouted out.
Yes, he remembered my mom after all that time, and she hadn’t even gone to many gymnastics meets!
By the time I got to Springfield for the holidays, my sister had an appointment to sign my nieces up for gymnastics. I went along. It was fabulous to see Leroy and his wife Merrill. They were delighted that my nieces would be doing gymnastics, but they were even more delighted to show off some old photos. Although Leroy had started teaching at the Y, he’d soon opened his own gym. I was among the first at that gym. Journalists from the newspaper came to cover the event, so there I was, in Leroy’s first of many scrapbooks. I was sitting on the floor waiting for my turn on the uneven bars.
To tell you the truth, I was never a very good gymnast. I got scared too easily. I didn’t have enough upper-body strength, so I could never do a decent back flip, a move considered fairly easy. I couldn’t do a three-minute routine on the balance beam without falling off.
Nevertheless, I loved tumbling. I loved running down a mat and throwing a back handspring or two or three. I loved doing a high round off and getting a buzz from it. I loved doing cartwheels and walkovers.
Watching the children run down the mats brought back all those memories, the sweat, the fear, the triumph, the fun.
“Come back on Thursday,” Leroy insisted. “That’s when the old grandmas work out.”
Even at thirteen, Leroy had called us all “grandmas.” But I couldn’t resist the challenge. Thursday night there I was, thinking I was verifiably crazy.
By now Leroy has much better equipment than he did back then. He had such soft mats that I wasn’t toooooo intimidated by the thought of running down them and trying something. But I couldn’t do a cartwheel. I couldn’t even do a round off. The muscles in my legs were too tight to move in those directions. Then Leroy offered to spot me on a back handspring. I thought he was crazy!
To my shock, my body had a vague recollection of the way to do this move. And Leroy’s strong arm prevented me from falling on my head. The other gymnasts didn’t understand why I kept laughing, but only one was my age. She understood. It was strangely comforting that two of us were crazy.
I went on to do many crazy things that night. I even got to do some back flips on the trampoline—with the help of a powerful belt that refused to let me fly off into the rafters or off to the sides. At the end of the night I even got invited out with the staff. I’d been gone a long time, but suddenly I was home once again.
Where do trips down memory lane take you? What are some fun things you did in your childhood that you’d like to do again?