Monday, July 14, 2008

Of plane crashes and anniversaries

Yesterday was my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary and I almost ruined it.

I almost ruined it because for a few hours yesterday my mom and dad were too consumed with worry that I had crashed my father’s float plane to actually enjoy themselves.

The day started out innocuously enough. Rob, Graham and I had arrived on Saturday and spent the better part of Sunday morning lounging around the lake. My parents had plans to go to concert featuring Irish folk music at 2 p.m. in a town about a half hour away and I was planning on tagging along with Graham.

Rob was heading up to his brother’s cottage further north for a few days and we decided I would fly, rather than drive, him up. My parents stayed with Graham.

“If I’m not back by 1:30 p.m. or so just take Graham in my car to the concert and I’ll take your car and meet you there,” I advised blithely. “I should be back, but if not I’ll just be 10 or 15 minutes behind you.”

Rob and I took off about 12:30 p.m. for the half hour flight. The winds were strong. Although staying straight and level and maintaining altitude was a struggle, both the plane and I were capable of handling the conditions.

Until we landed.

Because minutes, seconds really, after we landed the winds at our destination lake started to howl and whip the water into frothy waves.

A float plane is a graceful bird in the sky but a heavy, sluggish chunk of metal on the water. Virtually powerless, I spent 15 minutes alternately driving and sailing the plane just a few hundred metres to the dock where we tied up and waited for the winds to die.

And waited.

I called my parents but they had already left. I left a message but they have an old-fashioned answering machine from which you can’t retrieve messages. They weren’t carrying a cell phone. I called my brother but he wasn’t home.

I was left to sit and wait out the winds with a churning stomach and a heavy heart, knowing that my parents would be growing more and more worried as time ticked by and I failed to arrive.

I knew they had been looking forward to the concert for some time and would now spend it running after a toddler and worrying about me. But I also know that 90 per cent of flying is decision making and it is far better to worry than to grieve.

I thought about our friend who succumbed to the skies just a few months ago and about how all parents worry about their children. I thought about how I sometimes lie awake at night plagued by nightmares about the dangers that lie ahead for Graham. I am 38 years old: I wondered how many times my parents had been forced to fight the creeping fear that their worst fear might be coming true.

Finally by 3 o’clock, the winds settled down. I kissed Rob goodbye and took off, fighting the plane’s instinct to jump like a spirited, wild horse into the still lively air. By the time I landed at my parents’ place a half hour later all four of my limbs were aching with exertion. I docked as quickly as possible, jumped into the car and headed to the concert.

It was 4:05 p.m. when I spotted my ashen-faced parents in my car, pulling out of the concert area, just as I was pulling in. I beeped the horn and they started. As if in slow motion, I watched their faces lift and their eyes brighten. We exchanged waves.

“I’m proud of your decision-making,” my dad said later. “A good pilot doesn’t try and take on Mother Nature. Today was a good experience for you.”

But it wasn’t a good experience for him, of course. It was a stressful and scary experience, one of many he and my mother have endured in 45 years of marriage and 42 years of parenting.

“I’m proud of you too Dad,” I said. “Happy anniversary.”

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54 comments:

Marmarbug said...

wow I am first! Thank goodness you are okay. I bet that was nerve wracking.
This just shows that our years of worrying are forever.

Ms. H said...

I am SO glad you're okay. Kudos on your flying skills and your decision to wait out the storm.

Jobthingy said...

Happy Anniversary to them :)

yes it sucks to make them worry but always better safe then sorry

Joanna said...

That had to be so hard on you knowing they would worry. But good call! Hope they were able to enjoy the rest of the evening. Knowing you were safe should have made up for it.

Helen E.M. Wright said...

You really never stop worrying!!! Can you imagine what the teen years are going to be like?!?!?!

Brittany said...

Wow. I was worrying just reading this! Thank goodness everything turned out well! :)

Brittany said...

OH! And Happy Anniversary to your parents!! :)

Krystyn said...

How scary! Aren't you glad you made your poppa proud?

And, happy anniversary to them! That's awesome!

ewe are here said...

Ack, now that I'm a parent, I can understand all the horrible thoughts that must have been going through their heads...

You did make the right decision... I'm glad it all worked out.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

My goodness, how scary for them, but of course he would be very proud of your decision.
Happy anniversary to them, I would be proud of them too.
My mom has often shared with me some of the fears she has being the mom of grown children. You just can't protect them anymore, just worry and hope for the best.
Take care, glad you are alright,
Kristen

KathyLikesPink said...

Oh my gosh. The things I learn from reading your blog! I had no idea float planes were difficult when actually floating!

I'm so glad you are all safe. Yes, you did make your folks' anniversary a little rough, but thing of the pure joy they felt when they knew you were safe. A happy ending all the way around.

KathyLikesPink said...

THINK, not THING! Sheesh!

Kat said...

Ugh that must have been scary and I am sure your parents were worried. So glad your judgement was good and you decided to wait it out.

Aunt Becky said...

My heart might be pounding a bit right now. Like a lot.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

A parent's job is never done!

Magpie said...

Wow. Glad you're okay, and that your parents survived the worry.

Jaina said...

OMG up until the end I was freaking out that you'd crashed. I'm so glad everything turned out okay.

Laura said...

Glad you made the right call and are OK.

A parent's worry is never done...we are starting to realize that, eh?

Best wishes to your parents.

kbreints said...

I think that it is amazing that you are a pilot! However that was most definetly worrisome for your parents I am sure!

Cheffie-Mom said...

You are a pilot?? Wow, the first MOM blogger friend I've made that can fly! Too cool! I'm glad everything turned out okay!

Shannon said...

I'm glad you're decision-making skills are so keen - no wonder you're such a good pilot. Your poor parents, I can just imagine what they must have been feeling . . . but that wave of relief upon seeing you must have been so powerful for them. Congrats to them on 45 years!

flutter said...

You have such a HUGE sweet heart.

Kimmylyn said...

Happy Anniversary to your parents who happen to raise one awesome daughter.. I am still in awe you can handle flying a plane!!

daysgoby said...

Amazing! And scary, too.

caramama said...

I'm glad you are okay and used your excellent decision-making skills!

Happy Anniversary to your parents.

IRISHKAT said...

Sounds scary! Glad everything worked out.

common mom said...

So glad you're safe!

It's better to worry than grieve . . . my pilot hubby says the same thing. I never worry when he's flying. Although, after the first 2 months we dated (about 100 years ago!) we had to have a talk . . . the "If you're going to be more than an hour late, you have to call" talk. I'm independent, and he knew that, and he thought I wouldn't care if he was late getting back from flying - like 8 hours. Um, it's OK - you just have to call :-)

Are You Serious! said...

♡ I like that part also where you said it's better to worry than to greive! So true!

Heather said...

You are so smart to wait. Definitely better to make worry than make grieve.

Amy said...

I am glad that everything turned out okay. I am sure your parents will remember the relief of knowing that you are okay rather then the fear of thinking you were not.

imbeingheldhostage said...

What a good daughter you are! Really, I have a kid who can put me through the paces and will never, ever have the empathy that you showed in this post. Great story and Congrats to your parents!

Heather said...

That just goes to show that parents never, ever stop worrying about their children. Of course, most aren't piloting planes!

Mental P Mama said...

So happy how this turned out...as always.

Bunchy said...

Sooo glad you made that decision. And I still can't believe you fly. Amazing!!

Happy anniversary to your folks.

Zip n Tizzy said...

Wow, that choked me up. What a good daughter and mama you are to not push it, and recognize what was most important. Happy Anniversary to your folks!

Stacey said...

Knowing someone else is worrying is such a sick inducing feeling.
Glad it all turned out for the best.

RiverPoet said...

I'm so glad you're okay, and yes, I'm sure your parents have worried many times about you. It's what we parents do!

You handled the situation like a champ, but maybe it's time to talk your parents into getting a cell phone so you can always contact them.

Peace - D

OHmommy said...

What a beautiful story as always.

42 years of parenting and 45 years of marriage. Absolutely remarkable. Truly inspiring.

Mimi said...

What a scary story ... something for me to think about.

Kathryn said...

But really, it turned out to be a wonderful anniversary as their daughter was safe and sound. Whew!

Happy Anniversary to your folks. :)

tommie said...

I could feel my heart doing flip flops with the worry they must have felt!

Happy anniversary to your parents.

LaskiGal said...

Excellent post. Isn't it amazing that once that little life enters our world our entire perspective changes and our level of understanding is almost unspeakable . . .

Happy Anniversary! 45 years. How inspirational.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Wow, that must have been scary for them and worrying for you knowing how they would be feeling. That's one of the things about being a parent that we have to accept I suppose, the worrying. Hugs.

Queen of My Domain said...

Happy Anniversary to your parents. I'm sorry they spent so much of it worrying but I think we would all rather worry a bit and find out everything is okay than to hear something terrible has happened.

C said...

Oh my goodness! This post had me sitting on the edge of my seat as I read! I am sooooooooo glad you are okay. I am really impressed by your decision making too :) Scary, but some people would try to fly anyway.

Happy Anniversary to your parents!

Elaine A. said...

Happy Anniversary to your parents - what a wonderful example they are!

Sorry they had to worry but glad that it all turned out ok.

Karen MEG said...

Oh that was scary! Smart is what you are. Sorry that all were so worried, but it was so worth it.

Congrats on your parents' anniversary.

And what a reminder... we're always just children to our parents aren't we, no matter how old we are?

kittenpie said...

He's totally right. Good thinking, and may we all hope we can trust our kids to be so level-headed!

Nap Warden said...

Wow...Happy Anniversary to the P's!

chelle said...

Happy anniversary to your parents!

Egads ... parenting just never gets easy does it? The worrying never ceases!

Kelly said...

I had tears in my eyes by the time I got to the end of this post. I am both a parent and an obsessive worrier, so I can't even imagine what they would have been feeling. However, that all said - you obviously made the right decision - kudos to that.

I think that you should get them cell phones for their anniversary present LOL

Beth said...

Just writing this down and getting those emotions out so well probably helped you, I really hope that you don't feel quilty, it was nothing but bad luck.

Thanks for sharing a great story.

Casey's trio said...

The worrying never ends...glad you all enjoyed the end of your day together and safely.

The Boyds Family said...

I'm glad you made it back safely, allowing your parents a very happy anniversary. Smart thinking - they taught you well!