I can’t recall a time I haven’t loved airplanes. My parents told me it was my first word. I once almost stalled a Piper Cherokee at the tender age of 2. I was flying with my parents, sitting in my mom’s lap. They looked down briefly to glance at the map, and then ZOOM! Up we went. Jon was in control, and wanted some excitement.
I remember how my dad would stop and look every time a plane flew over. He’d say what it was, not so much to anyone around him, really. Just to himself. But I learned how to identify aircraft from him. And I still look up. Every time. I can’t not look up, truth be told. It’s as ingrained in me as breathing now.
Dad was a pilot. With a dear friend, he co-owned a Piper Tri-Pacer, and then a Piper Cherokee. Oh how I looked forward to flights on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. You haven’t really flown until you do so in a small plane, just cruising around where you’d like to.
The last few years, I always sent him a book on aviation for birthdays, Father’s Day and so forth. Mostly about World War II pilots or air battles. He always seemed to enjoy those. When I’d call, we’d talk about the books, and he’d tell me all the things he really liked about it.
Dad passed away in December 2014. Though he was 77, it wasn’t expected. He’d been very healthy. We thought he had the flu, and then suddenly the call came.
Get here fast. Not much time left.
My brother and I stood by his bedside that afternoon, talking to a family friend. Dad was not aware of us. The heart monitor was beating slowly but surely. It just kept showing 56. Then 55. Then 56. I stood and watched, a bit mesmerized, dreading what was to come. And then it went to 33. I thought that odd. His jersey number as a basketball player had been 33.
And then it showed 0.
Now, even more than airplanes, my dad taught me a love for the Lord. I know I’ll see my dad again. I don’t doubt that a bit.
But I do miss him. Especially today. Because today we would have discussed the book that had arrived. And I’d tell him about the model I was building. And we’d talk about its part in World War II.
To say I miss that is a gross understatement.
Be thankful for your dad, friends. One Father’s Day may run into the next. But that first one without him…. it’s a hard one.
I love you dad. Happy Father’s Day.