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
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.