Childhood dreams put on ice
IN some ways the scene that played out was like so many others at yesterday's 11th annual Skate Aloha Competition at the Ice Palace. There was the daughter, nervous but resplendent in her skates and dress, another Michelle Kwan, in her mom's mind's eye. And there was the mother, carrying a skater's bouquet of red roses, the color picked perfectly to match the dress. There are so many moments like this, among parents and kids at sporting events, moments they'll hold close for the rest of their lives.
"Hi, mom," the daughter says, shuffling anxiously, about to go out on the ice.
"I love you," the mother says.
"Give mom a hug," someone says.
"I was going to do it afterwards," the daughter says.
"Well, why not both?" the mother says, and so they do. And the scene melts your heart, even more so than any of the others. Because this one is the same, yes, but it's very different, too. Because this mother has been a grandmother for years now. Because this daughter is a mom herself; she'll turn 45 next week.
And here she is, living her girlhood dream, wearing a sparkly dress she'd made herself, getting her mother's hug before going out to compete on the ice.
"When I was a kid I wanted to do it more than anything," Laurel Schuster would say.
"You never stop being a mom," Linda Laine would say.
And here they are, now, having these moments after all of these years. A daughter finally living a young girl's dream. A mother basking in the joy of seeing a daughter doing what she loves, sending her out there with a hug.
"I can't tell you how special," Laine would say.
"I feel truly fortunate to have lived long enough to be able to share in this."
LAUREL'S ELDEST DAUGHTER, Linnea, had bugged her mother for years about skating. Finally, one day, Grandma said she would take them all. This was about seven years ago, and they went to the Ice Palace. Linnea was 8 and Kalia was 5, and everybody had a great time. There was a great coach there, a military wife, and soon the girls were into skating. They had competitions. They were so into it, at Christmas, Linnea got ice skates. Kalia was to get a pair, too.
The next winter, Linnea went to her mom: "Mommy, what do you want for Christmas?"
What did she want? Well, Laurel wanted what every mom wanted. She wanted all the Christmas cards done, the house clean, chores completed.
No, no. "Was there anything you always wanted when you were a little girl and you didn't get?"
It stopped her. Laurel told her daughter about how she'd always wanted to skate when she was a girl, but never could. About how much she loved watching her own girls on the ice, the joy it gave her. How happy it made her to see them out there, doing what she'd always wanted to do.
There hadn't been enough money for skating when Laurel was a little girl. Today she says it was because the rink was so far away, but her mother corrects her -- it still tugs at Laine that she was never able to give her daughter this gift. So when Linnea called and passed on that one Christmas wish, it was perfect. And on Christmas, when she thought all of the presents were opened, there was one more left.
"When I opened it up I started to cry," Laurel says.
"They didn't fit," she says.
But then, another miracle. Her mother had skated when she was young, and the family told her to try them on. Perfect. "I think dad's looking down from heaven saying you should skate," Laurel said.
And the four of them did. But then the girls went to Punahou, and as good as they were, there were other sports, other things to do. And the wonderful coach left, and Laine dropped out.
Laurel Schuster skated on, the way she'd always wanted to do. "I love it," she says. Sometimes her husband, a surfer, would think it was silly. There were injuries -- she shows a scarred elbow.
"I woke up face down," she says.
But she skated on. And her mother, who had always wanted to give this to her little girl, sponsors her skating lessons. Helps her with outfits. Brings flowers. Sends her out with a hug just like all the other mothers do.
She skated yesterday, an adult among all the pixies. As excited as any of them, one of them. No Sasha Cohen, but loving it still.
"I did OK," she would tell her mother, after coming off the ice.
They get to have these moments, both getting a second chance to live out this dream.
As the daughter skated the mother stood at the edge of the rink clutching her heart. Trying to work the new camera.
It's tough to focus with tears in your eyes.