Life from the rear-view mirror

Father’s Day 2014…. Vol 78

July 5, 2014 | Comment

dad and StinsonIt’s 7:30 am and I’m having my first cup of coffee. I might even have another…who knows? I’m still a ways from my target heart rate this morning… 

It’s going to be gorgeous for the next couple of days here in the Rochester, NY area, and this morning I’m dreaming about airplanes and flying! It’s been quite a few years since I’ve actually been at the controls of anything that flies….in the air anyway… I guess my old Porsche 928S would have qualified for a low- flying vehicle!

Anyway…when I moved up to NY from TX, there was always something that took priority over flying. Family, finances, health…but even with all that I still tried to fly at least once a year to remember the thrill of it. The pure joy of it! I even got an hour in an old Enstrom helicopter…just to remember why I loved flying a helicopter so much.

For me, flying started as a shared interest with my dad..and remains a shared interest today. Dad will be 85 this year, so we mostly just “hangar-fly” now. But it’s still fun and brings back memories that both of us cherish. Years ago, flying was a way to connect with dad  that got us past the “I am the father…you are the son”  boundaries that were still prevalent back in the 50’s when I was growing up. It was either going to be flying or holding the flashlight while dad worked on car projects.  Flying suited me much better. When it comes to cars…I’m still your guy when a flashlight needs to be held.

Dad started flying in 1961 in an old Piper Cub tied down at Canastota Airport…which is now business park. With a young family and nearly always working two jobs…there wasn’t much money for flying…so dad took lessons in very small increments… literally 15-30 minutes at a time. So it took him a while to get all the hours he needed to solo, do his cross-country flights and prep for his written test and check ride. It all came together after we moved to VA. Dad got his private pilot’s license in South Hill, VA in 1984…just a few months ahead of me.

Flying can be…unforgiving. There is an element of risk. You can’t just know about flying to pilot a plane…you actually have to know how to fly. You have to be able to execute a variety of skills, on demand, at any moment,  for the privilege of being able to walk away from the airplane, fully intact, at the end of the flight. Acquiring these skills takes some smarts, some time, a lot of money, a big commitment and patience. And then there’s the weather…All this stuff has to work in harmony to create an opportunity to fly. At least it does for those of us who don’t have an instrument rating. We have to be able to see where we are going at all times to be able to get there and back again.

We all need guides in life. God has seen fit to ordain our parents as those early guides. They have put in the love (huge amounts of it), the time, the money(lots of that too…), the commitment and they learned the necessary skills of life over many (often difficult) years to be able to impart them to us in lessons that we may actually remember. They have always been loving, always had our backs, pray for us and support us in ways and means that range from tender to fierce at times.

Sunday is Father’s day.

My dad has left my brother and me an enormous legacy of love, faithfulness to our Savior, an uncompromising love of our mother, and shared interests that have empowered our lives and filled them with purpose, hope, direction and meaning in ways we could never fully express. Dad and mom have lived out this incredible life example ….right in front of our eyes…with much personal sacrifice. We couldn’t miss it. We didn’t miss it…although at times our own lives might not have looked anything like the wonderful example that was set for us.

Today I just want to say “Thank you” and “I love you dad!’

I still aspire to being the man of character and faith you are and have always been.

Happy Father’s Day!

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