What to do for the 1,000th blog posting, other than amazement I’ve kept doing it, and a few people keep reading it? Instead of some epic rant, decided to do something for my late Dad.
When I returned from the Army, the dormant flying bug became full blown. With some bucks in the bank, decided it was now or never. Snagged a job with a meteorology company that had a contract to study snowfall patterns. Great job. We worked when it was storming and were off when the weather was nice. My coworkers went skiing. I went flying.
My Dad always had the flying bug and used me as an excuse to start lessons. We went in on a 1939 Piper J-4, somewhere around 75 hp, operating off a 7,000 AGL runway. As my father was known to say, “You by God learned what flying was all about”. The J-4 is a forgiving airplane at reasonable altitudes but hasn’t much margin for error at the altitude we operated.
We put many hours on that bird. Later, after earning his Private ticket, Dad bought a Cessna 182. He had become involved in Real Estate and that airplane helped put together several ranch sales in the region. He always said the ranch deals payed for the plane.
My Dad was one hell of a stick but was careless. He didn’t appreciate his son pointing out his lapses. Since he had such a domineering personality, I was about the only person who would speak up. He intimidated flight instructors. While he never bent one, I know he scared himself a few times.
We had a strained relationship all the years. He and my mother divorced after 33 years. Family joke. My sister and I tell people we are the result of a mixed marriage. My Dad was cows, my Mom sheep. My sister adds their marriage was a range war.
Around age 60, my Dad started to reinvent himself, for lack of a better description. He started examining his beliefs and ways of dealing with things. I’ve always admired that. He died in his sleep when he was 64, probably from complications of undiagnosed sleep apnea.
Two things I regret about his death. First, my sons never got to know him as they grew up. He was terrific with kids, just not his own. Second, we were starting to patch up our differences and we probably would have had a much better relationship. It was hard as I inherited his temper and my mother’s stubbornness, not to mention she was often a bitch on steroids, and I am sometimes my mother’s son.
I do have to cut my parents some slack. They grew up in the Great Depression in a Grapes of Wrath environment. Their drive to succeed was undoubtedly fueled by what my parents described as, “The belly flapping principal”.
In summary, if you have made it this far, thank you for reading this.