Six months ago, I was with twenty-one of my family members to watch my youngest great-granddaughter tandem parachute from a plane 12000 feet above the airport to celebrate her 21st birthday and entry into the US Army.
My son and his wife Corinna were not happy, to say the least about their daughter taking such a risk. However only because she was entering the US Army eased her father’s anxiety a little because he is a retired Army Colonel from the 101st Airborne Division. Corinna stayed in the car praying with a rosary in one hand and a bible in the other. She enlisted the help of their priest to attend the event with prayers and holy water for her daughter’s clothing and parachute.
As we all looked towards the sky waiting for her to jump from the plane. I reflected on my life and the dedication I made to my four children, family, friends, and my country during the World War-2. I also remembered the dare devil things I wanted to do at her age like wearing pants or coloring my hair to match the starlets of the 40’s and 50’s.
It has been six years since my beloved partner died and I’m sure he is in a peaceful place yet during our 54 years of marriage. He would never allow me to do anything like jump out of a plane, ride a horse, or ice skate, all in fear of me hurting myself.
However, after birthing four healthy children to become adults, I’m sure jumping out of a plane to the ground lasting only a few minutes is quicker than 10-15 hours of birthing a child.
Now, I stand in the doorway of an airplane with the wind blasting against my reddened and wobbly cheeks, with a helmet snapped to cover my freshly colored blond hairs, goggles pressing against my eyeballs, and my flight jumper suit revealing the bulges of my aged weight gains. I’m facing my fears when I look over my shoulder at the 50-year-old Bert who is my tandem partner.
His handsomely rugged and chiseled looks calm my nerves and suddenly I feel like a teenaged school girl. When he counts off, I shrugged off my thoughts to give him the thumbs up and soon we are falling towards earth, with my eyes closed. When I open them, I see the ground approaching and the circumference of the earth.
Suddenly the chute is deployed, and I can feel Bert’s body as we are pulled backward. Then, there is the calmness of silence with the wind passing my ears as we slowly descend towards the earth.
I could see my family and friends on the ground waving and cheering me on with shock, fear, concern, and relief when we were delivered back to earth.
At 86 years of age, it is never too late to chase a dream or at least be the dare-devil your soul desires.