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May 28, 2015

Sixty two years and we’re in up in the air again. We are pretty amazed to have made it to our 62nd wedding anniversary and we celebrated with the favorite shared activity of our lives. We went flying! This time our son Cameron piloted the Cessna 172 as we flew over to a nearby town with a restaurant at the airport for lunch. But at one point I took the controls for some minutes and the great loud flying beast responded to my feet on the rudders and hands on the wheel in acceptable turns and steady flight. Though my licensed piloting years were few, Gordon flew for over 60 years. Our love of flying never fades. As long as mankind has been on earth he has wanted wings, perhaps in memory of our spirits being free of the ballast of the physical. To fly on the physical earthly plane involves a loud, greasy engine to enable being aloft, but its worth the trade off.

It has been nearly three years since we have flown. In that time we both had open heart surgery to replace aortic valves. The same surgeon lifted up our hearts in his hands and now we are given a few more years of grace to be here together, to hope, to live, to learn and to love.

As we prepared for this anniversary flying adventure, there was some initial doubt as to whether we could make this sort of celebrating work. That is the part about actually getting in the plane. We both had intimidating moments as we looked at the cramped cabin and high step up and wondered if these mortal frames could match the desire to go. But with some serious strategizing we managed to bend, fold, and flex at the proper creaky joints and scooch ourselves into place and make it work! We had a pleasant lunch enjoying the sights and sounds of planes landing and taking off before us on the runway.

How we both have loved flying in our lifetimes! On take off the familiar feeling was there once again..nothing like it. Mind you the plane is loud, very loud. But you get where the thrum of a well tuned engine is music of a special kind. The moment of lift off…it is indescribable,… breaking free,.. ‘slipping the surely bonds of earth’ as the famous poem states. Heart and soul leap along with the freedom of leaving the ground and the landscape flows away behind you as you rise into the realm of air. A different kingdom.

Then you are up there, getting perspective on all things. Everything opens up. Horizons are now vast, wide and clean and far. Aloft in the sky. Swooping like a bird in a steep bank we can look down over the wing struts and identify the land marks and take in the measure of the land, the long range of the Sierra patched with snow. We fly over our home, White Feather Ranch there in the pines on the ridge above the rivers.

As we land we share a deep sense of joy and gratitude for our lives, our family, our friends, our experiences, the blessings we have known in all our years together and the freedom and privilege of being able to fly. Even as we read these written words about our sharing this love of flying and all our years together, we look at one another with knowing smiles, and eyes filled with knowing tears. “Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, Swiftly fly the years.. one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.”


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