Penticton great-grandmother enjoys high-flying celebration

Margaret Steer marks her 90th birthday with a parasailing adventure over Okanagan Lake

Margaret Steer (left) celebrated her 90th birthday recently with a tandem parasailing ride with her sister Barbara Foster over Okanagan Lake with the crew of Castaways Water Sports.

Margaret Steer (left) celebrated her 90th birthday recently with a tandem parasailing ride with her sister Barbara Foster over Okanagan Lake with the crew of Castaways Water Sports.

On top of the world.

That’s how Penticton great-grandmother Margaret Steer described her recent experience of parasailing  over Okanagan Lake.

“I just loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat,” she said afterwards. “What made me do this in the first place is that it was new and exciting and something I had never done before, and at my age you have to think about missed opportunities that might have given you joy and happiness.”

So she decided what better way to celebrate her 90th birthday than a flight with Castaways Water Sports.

Her granddaughter Tanya Tait agreed it was not exactly a typical gift for someone reaching that milestone.

“I was surprised because you don’t have a 90-year-old parasailing every day, but because it was Grandma Margaret I wasn’t surprised,” said Tait. “She tends to do some amazing things in some amazing ways and this just sort of caps it off.

“She’s a million-dollar gem, and one of the most inspirational people in my life. She is beyond inspirational.”

The plan to go on the ride was actually not a new one  but something she planned to do when she turned 80, but everyone except her seemed to have forgotten about it when that birthday rolled around.

“Back then I just decided to let it go and after all it sounds a lot better and more exciting if you do it when you’re 90,” she added with a chuckle. “Now they want me to do it again when I’m a hundred but I told them, ‘Don’t hold your breath.”’

Her birthday is really in June but because relatives and friends were unable to make it then the big party was delayed until later in the summer.

Unfortunately, on the evening she was planning to do the ride the weather turned stormy and it was pushed back until the next morning.

“Was I nervous? Not at all,” she recalled about the moments just before lifting off the platform on the boat’s stern.

But the same could not be said for her 76-year-old sister Barbara Foster of Victoria, who decided — albeit somewhat reluctantly — to make it a tandem trip.

“Barbara really didn’t want to go at first but then she called me back and said if my big sister is turning 90 and she can do it, I’d better try it too,” said Steer. “She loved it.”

The morning of the big event dawned clear and bright and the family made its way down to the docks behind the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

Once on board, Castaways owner Don Gray and crew headed out onto the water where the women were suited up for the ride of a lifetime.

“It was beautiful because you aren’t conscious about looking down and it was just so thrilling,” said Steer. “Returning to the boat was like coming from heaven back down to the earth.”

According to the Castaway owner, she is the oldest person he has taken up in the 30-plus years he’s been in the business.

Gray gets a particular satisfaction from providing the ride to his special customers like seniors and the handicapped.

“For me it’s great,” he said. “Just to see the joy in the faces from the experience they’ve had, that’s a reward in itself.”

Now having crossed parasailing off her to-do list, what’s the next adventure for the venerable thrill seeker?

“Well,” she said pensively. “Another fella at church last week asked if I would go — what do you call it when you jump out of an airplane? yes parachuting — with me, but I said I would really have to think about that seriously but I guess that would be the next one.”