Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One Day

I was walking out to the flight line to preflight yesterday morning with my flying partner this week, Scott, who has the nickname "Catfish." This scene just stopped me cold, and I immediately regretted leaving my camera back at the quarters. I then remembered that my new cell phone had a better camera than the last, and snapped this photo. Sometimes, the light in coastal Louisiana has a magic about it.

Katie, the wife of a former coworker, asked if that was "my" helicopter. It wasn't. A guy named John and a guy named Raj were crewing it.

Here's Raj with one of his "fur kids," as my friend Pam would say. I copied this off his Facebook page, with his okay. Something tells me that Raj and his wife have friends who secretly wish they could die and come back as one of their dogs.

We broke off an approach to an offshore oil platform to see what this waterspout would do. It seemed to be taking a path to the platform, but after we circled for ten minutes or so, it veered away and dissipated.

This was the sky on our flight back to the base, following our "visit" with the waterspout.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This and That

This morning was a first for me: I went to listen to a writer talk about writing. Steve Brewer ranks among the best known of our Shasta County authors. He's written 16 books, and the first novel of his Bubba Mabry series of crime mystery novels, Lonely Street, was made into a movie, and recently released on DVD. Although he's written for a living since the age of eighteen, Steve's talk focused on how writing a screenplay for the first time prompted him to look at the process of creating fiction with fresh eyes. It was a fun talk; Steve is funny in person as well as in writing.

My online buddy Thom G lost his dad to lung cancer. My thoughts and prayers are with Thom and his family. Thom writes some remarkable "flash fiction." You might check him out here.

My online friend Debby, who has already been through a battle with breast cancer, may have cancer again. My thoughts and prayers are with her, too. She's a remarkable writer and a remarkable lady.

Dylan has been sick with a fever, but he's rebounding now. A couple of mornings ago, when he was still feeling rotten, he sat on my lap while we watched a movie together. It was the first time in a good while that he's done that, and I had to put out a little effort not to get teary. Gosh, time passes, doesn't it? Oh yeah: the sentimentality washing over me was only part of the reason I felt choked up. Also, the circulation to one of my legs was getting cut off. Sheesh, my nine year-old "little boy" weighs 100 pounds now. I'm wondering how much longer I'll have the guts to let him sock me in the body full-force when we do our "sparring."

Sometimes I get a little wistful about Dylan's baby time, and I'll wish I could go back to hold him as an infant again. But, if I had the opportunity to go back in time, I wouldn't take it. I'd miss the little smarty-pants I know now too much.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Cousin Once Removed

I had planned to attend a funeral today in Las Vegas. I booked an airline ticket, a hotel room, packed a bag. But Dylan has been sick, and Rhonda came down with the same bug the day before yesterday. So, I'm staying home.

Jonathon was twenty years old. I hadn't seen his mom since I was a teenager and she was a small child. Jonathon is the grandson of Gary, the several-years-younger brother of my dad. Gary used to take me shooting when I was a kid. I'm six-four and some change, and I look up at Gary, who claims he's six-seven but appears at least an inch taller.

My dad was one of eight kids, my mom one of six. I have a lot of cousins, especially considering that most of my cousins have kids, those "first cousins once removed." I think of the days when both sets of grandparents were alive. We'd have big family gatherings and I'd catch up with the lives of my first and second cousins. We'd watch the adults laugh, and some of the younger aunts and uncles would play with us.

My extended family is spread around the country nowadays, as is the case with so many families. Only weddings or funerals prompt family gatherings of any size.

I never met my cousin Jonathon, the son of my cousin Leigh Ann, who was so doggone cute as a little kid that it hurt to look at her. I only know him by what I've heard and read.

He was a child who always loved working with his hands, be it making music, creating art, or building something. He was a quiet guy who didn't seek the limelight, and a loyal friend. He seemed one of those people who could put friends in a better mood with his presence. He seemed one of those people who left more in this life than he took.

I never met Jonathon, but I'll never forget him. I wish I could stand close to his grandfather and his parents and his siblings today as he's laid to rest, but I can't. But, there are other ways to say goodbye. There are other ways to remember. I'll remember Jonathon, my twenty year-old cousin who lost his life in a car accident, and I'll do my best to celebrate his life.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What's in a Name?

We lost my dad in '91, and my mom in 2001, when Dylan was fifteen months old.

I think a lot about Mom and Dad. They weren't perfect, but I admire what they offered as parents, especially considering their growing-up years.

Now again, my mom wasn't perfect, but I think I was in the front rows when they handed out mothers. My mom was kind, patient, fair-minded, compassionate, and she had one of the most infectious laughs you'd ever hear.

She was hard-headed as heck, though. Good thing, or she would have been too good to be true.

About a year after Dad died, I stopped by one morning to have coffee with Mom.

I asked, "Mom, how did you and Dad decide on my name?"

Hal is my nickname. Harold is my given name.

Mom didn't hesitate. My sweet, kind, loving, almost too good to be true mom didn't hesitate.

She answered, "I never did like your name."
I said, "Huh?"
She repeated, "I never did like your name. Your dad marched in after you were born and announced that he wanted to name you 'Harold,' and I was in no shape to argue."

Stop laughing. It's not funny. Really. Stop laughing.