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My old man was a pilot, not during WW2 ( he ws a "grunt" ) , but shortly thereafter. Originally soloed in 1947 under the GI bill benefits rightfully awarded him. But like many of us, the commitments acquired by the responsibilites of beautiful new wife and family precluded any extravagances of disposeable income. In other words, it was either feed the family or feed the desire to be an aviator. But like me, as finances and career improved during middle-age, that elusive invisible object called disposeable income once again became a reality rather than a fantasy. For him, the "second" first solo came some fifteen years later and his love for flying once again was able to be nourished. But middle age,for some of us, includes a very subtle declination of overall health. We get older and we get sick easier. We start to suffer from chronic health issues that undermine keeping our federally-mandated medical authorization current. Losing the coveted medical was quite a blow, as one could imagine, to my Old Man. When that happened, I was more-than-ever determined to "pick up the gauntlet" and run with it. I always felt a tremendous need to pay him back for all he had done for us kids and Mom. I had always been enammered by flying. Ever since that day dad sat me, at the tender age of 5, in the cockpit of an old Piper Colt in 1962 that he had just soloed, I have been looking to the skies when something drones overhead. Now it was my turn to be the PIC and have my best friend as my co-pilot and navigator. But , you know, Father time can be cruel. He can sneak up on you just as the insidious demon of disease called "Diabetes" can. Just when you think you have enough of that coveted commodity called "time", that last grain of sand passes through the narrows of the invisible but everpresent hourglass. Father time takes no prisoners and makes no guarantees, other than it cannot be rewound. For the lucky ones, however, that particular aforementioned fact can open eyes once closed to everyday events and happenings in our our lives. It can make us appreciate the NOW's. Holding your newborn for the very first time. Bearing witness to our toddler's very first steps. Our kid's baseball game on a warm summer afternoon. Our spouses smiling at us for no particular reason other than they are simply glad we are with them to enjoy whatever moment is unfolding. The bearhug of a buddy one hasn't seen in too long of a time. The corny jokes, arguments on political issues, and good company of an old, retired, sometimes grumpy but loving Dad. The simple pleasures often overlooked and under-appreciated -- Until they are gone from the physicality of this world. Notice I say "physicality" of this world, for faith has taught me that "Death" is nothing more than a change of "Life". It is not an ending, but a new beginning. Still, the true belief in the new "beginning" requires a Herculean effort whilst suffering through the mind-wrenching proceess we call "grieving". For me, it was not an easy process, but my flying -somehow- showed me a path of coping that I still, to this day, cannot understand. Perhaps it was his logbook that showed me some sort of path, I don't know. But reviewing it gave me a glimpse, and perhaps better closeness and understanding of him --and myself for that matter. More to follow ... Johnnie
That is a very heartfelt and touching story. You have a way with words and you can feel the emotion coming through them. I have used aviation as a "crutch" in difficult times ... there is something about the new perspective on life and the freedom of the air that provides a fresh and renewing outlook on life. Thanks for sharing your story with us and I hope that others are as passionate as you about the spirit of aviation. Clear Skies, Dave
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