I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful, 100 percent.
Meaning, of course, that I saw to it that my wife got her wish to see what it is like to skydive. We got out to Ritzville at 2pm and got her all checked in. However, we had to wait our turn and so it wasn’t until about 4:30 that I watched the airplane scoot down the runway with my wife aboard. It took another fifteen minutes for the Cessna 182 to claw its way to about 12,000 feet where my wife, attached to a strapping young man named Sergi, tumbled out of the plane. I watched, squinting against the sun as two little dots became two larger dots and then turned into two blossoming parachutes in the sky. One was my wife and Sergi, and the other was Kara, the photographer I hired to take video and stills of my wife’s event.
So much planning and waiting took a mere three minutes to be over with, counting from her departing the plane to her arrival back on the ground. She was one of six different people who were getting their indoctrination to the world of free fall. On the ground, I amused myself by chatting with the parachuting neophytes who were waiting their turn, listening to the apprehensive questions they asked me. They had overheard discussions between my wife and the staff at West Plains and knew I had a couple thousand jumps under my belt. I hated to explain to them that my most recent jump occurred before a couple of them were born. They were all dying to know what it was that caused me to abandon the sport, and I simply explained that I had “hurt myself.” I left it to their imaginations to figure out whatever they chose to believe. It is actually just the weakness in my spine from Multiple Myeloma that keeps me grounded. I don’t dare risk a hard landing. I must admit though, that each time I visit a jump loft and watch jumpers wielding their fabric aircraft about it is hard for me to pass on taking a quick trip of my own. It’s like one of those so near and yet so far things.
Jumping is something I gave up, along with flying, so that I could concentrate my money and time on my growing family. My budget never seemed to be able to accommodate either sport at the same time as feeding, clothing and housing my wife and kids. Society takes a dim view of dad’s who spend their dollars on sporting events rather than the welfare of their kids. I would never admit that in the end I think of myself getting the better deal by choosing the kids over the sport. It’s too much fun laying guilt trips on my seedlings. Now, at the time I figured I could get back into it, the stupid cancer has forced another of those choices on me, and once again I have chosen to take the high road and not be too reckless with my sunset years.
I do have every intention of flying again. I look at that as less risky than negotiating through traffic with my fellow drivers, who I believe to be insane and senseless, and often in my way. So after I get my need for a scooter and a vehicle to carry it, and I get myself situated in a new home, I will once again be ready to take to the skies. While my medical situation precludes me from flying most aircraft, motor gliders and ultralight aircraft are exempt from proscribing regulations. So it would be a good bet to believe that I will address getting myself an aircraft sometime within the next couple of years. That does, I admit, assume that my condition will not deteriorate further to the point that I have to abandon that idea as well as skydiving. But I have this attitude that since I haven’t died so far, even in spite of the prognosis’ of a couple of pretty good physicians, that my survival chances are exactly the same as anyone else’s. It’s 50 – 50. No one can guarantee they will live through tomorrow, so everyone has an equal chance at being alive or not.
But for the moment, my wife has joined the membership of an exclusive group, the people who have experienced free fall and parachuting. She now has things to add to the discussions in my family which invariably touch on skydiving, and the tales we tell. I will leave it to her to tell those stories so as not to steal her thunder. So if you wish to hear her exciting verbal renderings of her experience, you will have to ask her about it.