My Dad came home today from the hospital in full hospice care. He is on the “down wind leg” to use a sailing term, but in real life Dad flew bombers, and as a young teen, an old biplane in which he was smitten by the flying bug. Maybe it was getting up over the green valleys of his Tennessee farm house, from the poverty and depression era stress that he experience as a child. His eyes were always set on the far horizon and that dream eventually landed him in the Army Air Corps and a career as an Air Force pilot.
He is a High Flyer in many other ways, too. Though a country boy, he read Chaucer and Shakespeare and memorized the romantic poets whom he still quotes flawlessly today. Tonight for example, through his gurgling throat, lungs filling with fluid, and an oxygen tube in each nostril, he lapped up his favorite dessert (Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream) and quoted two verses of A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
4 thoughts on “High Flyer”
Henry David Thoreau
Summer is gone with all its infinite wealth, and still nature is genial to man. Though he no longer bathes in the stream, or reclines on the bank, or plucks berries on the hills, still he beholds the same inaccessible beauty around him. [November 22, 1860]
Sounds like you dad is a special man and a pleasure to know. I wish you both comfort.
Susan, what a wonderful tribute to the very special man who is your dad. In some ways, I feel I know your dad, who shares some military experiences with my own dad, who died in 2001 at 94. Born in Arkansas, he got his commission as a Naval officer during the early days of WWII and had a career that afforded him much material for his talents as a story teller. Unlike your dad, my dad did not take to literature, but in a sense made his own from material both heroic and ordinary. My thoughts are with both of you. Peace.
Susan, I know your dad has been an incredible inspiration in your life. Jim’s and my thoughts and prayers are with you both, and all of your family, during these difficult days ahead. May your dad cross the bridge peacefully on his life’s continued journey, and may you find deep joy and calm knowing he really isn’t leaving but merely flying the lead biplane from this world to the next — and I can see him spilling maps and sage guidebooks out of the cockpit window for everyone who is yet to follow. Blessings! Peace, Mikaela
To all of my dear friends who have written such beautiful messages, I thank you from my heart. Dad passed away peacefully in his sleep. Today he received a military burial and we spent the afternoon celebrating his life.