A Pilot's Perspective.

By Barry Meek. 

May 2013   

Take Care of the Bucket List 

     Years ago when my grandmother was still alive, she would joke about reading the obituaries in the newspaper, saying that if her name didn’t appear, then she was OK.  She was still alive. 

     But what she was really doing was lamenting the fact that many of her friends were passing away.  I often heard her comment that Mrs. Jones or Mr. Smith, people she had acquaintance with, had died.  It was all stated in a matter-of-fact manner, but somehow I could sense the resignation she felt.  Her time was coming.  But before the end for her, she was seeing the vision through all her old friends.   

     As she spoke with other neighbors, they often discussed the folks who had passed on.  “Did you hear?  Mr.Wilson passed away last week”   

     “Yes I saw that in the newspaper.  He hadn’t been well for months y’know, ever since his wife died last winter”. 

       My grandmothers time came eventually.   She was well into her eighties, quite ill, hospitalized, and not expected to recover.  My home was several hundred miles away, so I was the last member of our family to arrive at her bedside.  She waited for me though, we had a short talk, and that night she died.   

        The cycle of life and death will always be with us.  And now, many years later, I see some of my friends reading obituaries.  Personally, it hasn’t come to that for me, but it’s a reminder that I ought to be paying attention to a bucket list of some kind.  One fellow who lives close by, has for many years, wanted to own a Corvette.   He’s about seventy five years old, but still has the dream.  A couple of months ago, a very close friend of his died of cancer.  Within a few short weeks, this neighbor finally walked on to a car lot, and drove out with a brand new Corvette.  I say “good for him”.   

          Back in 2006, I wrote about the cycle of flying that so many pilots have been through.  We all have that certain spark, the realization that something magical happens when we depart the runway.  It’s not for everyone, but for those bitten by the bug, it never goes away.  We go with it, usually in our early 20’s, take some flying lessons, some even obtain a private pilots license.  But other things in life get in the way of  moving forward with it.   We get ourselves into a mortgage, a career, a family, and come to grips with the reality of living within our means.  And we discover that flying can be unaffordable to many people who have all the other commitments.  But eventually, we find a way to get back in.   Once a pilot, always a pilot.  There’s magic, fascination and satisfaction in operating an airplane and being lifted above all the unfortunate souls trapped on the ground.  Pilots are the privileged members of society.   

           My dear grandmother may have left this world with something still on her “bucket list”, if she had one.  I’ll never know.  My neighbor is doing what’s right for him, driving his new car.   I can only hope to encourage anyone who has some kind of desire, some “itch”, to take care of it before it’s too late.  If it’s flying, there is a way to do that too.  Take the initiative, and get it done.  They don’t bury suitcases full of money along with you.  But they do bury the dreams. 

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