Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Flying with Papa

 My dad has been a private pilot all of my life.  I spent many Saturdays hanging out at the airport while my dad cleaned the plane or took us up for rides.  I remember always feeling a surge of pride as I listened to him speak to the tower and wondering how in the world one man could know so much.  I remember when we would take it on long trips and get in big fights about the fact that my sister and I each needed our very own curling irons and hair dryers even though the luggage was over the weight limit.  That plane holds a piece of my childhood.  Yesterday, I got to share that piece with my son.

We went to the airport to see some old war planes on exhibit and decided to take my oldest up for his first flight with papa.  As my dad was opening the hangar doors I told my son that Papa knew a lot about airplanes.  "Feel free to ask him any questions you have.  He will be glad to teach you."  My son puffed up his little chest and said with resolve, "Papa...Papa....I want you to teach me everything you know about airplanes.  Today."  

My dad laughed in a way that told me how thankful he was to finally have someone share his passion.  "Well," he said, "I'll give it my best shot."  And he did.  He let him climb on the wing and taught him how to check fuel levels.  He let him wear the headphones and listen to other pilots talking to air traffic control.  

And he answered questions.  A lot of questions.  "Papa, why are some of the wings on airplanes on the top and some are on the bottom?  And why are propellers so loud?  Why don't jets have propellers?  How do they go?  Why does that one have more than one engine?" he asked.  The questions in his mind flowed much faster than his little mouth could form them. There were moments that I wasn't sure he would ever come up for air.

As we neared the airport, we decided to dip down and fly over our house.  My husband was waiting on the driveway waving to us as we circled and waved to him with the wing.  My son was shouting down to him, "DADDY!!!  WE ARE FLYING!!  HI DADDY!"  I haven't seen him have that much fun in a long time. 

We made our way to the car and my son grabbed a rock from the yard by the hangar.  "I'm going to keep this to remember this day," he said in a voice so much older than his years.  There is something magical about seeing your parents love your children.  My dad has so much to teach them; he has more to teach them than I will probably ever know in a lifetime.  Thank you, Dad, for a day neither of us will soon forget.

If you are a grandparent, I hope you know how much you are needed.  I hope that you know that your lives and your experiences are priceless to your children and your grandchildren.  You are loved and appreciated.

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