Chesley Sullenberger, death, family, fear of flying, golf, Grace Cathedral, Harding Park, love, planes, President's Cup, Star Wars, Sully
It has taken me a day to settle down from my harrowing plane flight. I’m not afraid of flying, but flying in the high winds that hit the West Coast of the US yesterday was not a joy ride I enjoyed. I was sitting there in seat 12F mentally writing my own obituary about how I was rushing back to Northern California to my cousin’s funeral, my second of the week, when my plane went down in the SF Bay. It was one of those flights where you hear that whistle. You know the sound. It’s the one you hear in the movies where the plane makes that soaring screech before it hits the ground? We had to abort our landing twice as our captain told us that the wind shears were too violent to provide us with a predictable path to the runway. Inside the plane, we slammed against each other with each turbulent drop and rise of our plane, trying not to act worried. The woman next to me grabbed my arm subconsciously and I didn’t even want to look at her for fear I’d get scared too. I tried to distract myself with the newspaper only to read about the great confidence we should have in the pilots of today, an article about Chesley Sullenberger, a local hero, and someone you would have wanted at the helm of our plane yesterday. We eventually landed and everyone rushed to the men’s room full of relieved tension. Even the pilot came rushing in to a bunch of smiling and relieved faces.
The quote for this post is a thought provoking one from the Reverend who presided over my first funeral I attended this week. I just wish I didn’t need these reminders. Seriously, so far two funerals for dads under the age of 55 this week and I get the message. I get it , I get it, I get it. I sat there yesterday listening to my son’s classmate singing “100 Years” by 5 for Fighting and I just about lost it. I could not see my son singing next to my casket like that. Every other dad in the church must have been thinking the same thing. I looked around and I’m sure people were thinking “That could be me”.
I stopped myself as I asked myself if I would rather have more time to plan my death or go quickly in my sleep. What? I can’t live life like that. I need to live life every day for the sake of happiness. As soon as these recent deaths came in fast sequence last week we didn’t need to say anything. My wife knew how I was feeling, “There is solidarity and certainty in death. We’ll all die some day, but let’s not live to die, but live to live well”. For the first time I can ever remember, my kids came to visit me at work and all of us went out for lunch. Just so nice to see your family together to break up the day. It was just the beginning to the start of a great family weekend.
Saturday was our normal soccer Saturday as a family followed by the President’s Cupgolf tournament. The President’s Cup was chilly but a great way to see the best golfers in the world in an intimate setting on our local home course. Golf is unique because of how close you get to the players and the fact that you are actually walking around on the playing surface with them, not like most sports where they look like gladiators in a pit.
My 7-year old daughter doesn’t play golf yet, but I loved it on Sunday night when we ask everyone in our home what was their favorite part of the weekend and she chose to say that seeing Tiger Woods in person while snuggling close together as a family sipping hot cocoa was the best.
Sunday was followed by early morning Little League baseball again on a cold and blustery day. It was another coffee and cocoa morning. The evening was finished with a trip to see Star Wars in Concert. This was my son’s favorite event as he got to see all the costumes from the movies and watch the movies unfold to an orchestra which played the famous score that won many accolades and the Academy Award. Seeing his eyes light up and his feet tapping to the music reminded me of myself at his age. My wife and I caught each other watching our son and smiled that knowing smile that he was having a good time and enjoying himself. It was a long day, but he was so excited to watch that he didn’t want to take a break to get food because he didn’t want to miss a thing.
Yes, the Reverend Alan Jones was right in saying that funerals and death bring us together to reflect and remember on those who have left us and to help celebrate their lives. He was also very right in saying that love binds us too. Spending a wonderful weekend with my family and exposing my children to some great experiences that they will never forget is something I will always cherish. It is love and great times spent together which bind a family in experience and spirit. It is those pleasant memories which we will use to grow and to help us remember the best of times at the worst of times… like when we are sitting on a plane with some crazy stranger grabbing on to your arm so tight.
I am glad you have two feet on the ground, and yes…life has a way of reminding us how precious it truly is!