I remember a late summer afternoon with my mom.
My mother was a city girl who fell in love with a country boy and moved to his family farm. Even though she loved her husband and her three little kids to pieces, she just wasn't going to be satisfied being a mom in a country kitchen or milking cows. She was a twenty-five year old, red-headed, free spirit.
Anyway she started flying planes and one day she took me and my baby brother and sister to the airport to hang out and go up with her. We sat stuffed behind the pilot seat, staring out the tiny window of her yellow Piper Cub and flew all around, over checkerboard farm fields, and even waved at our dad on his tractor.
It was the end of the day and time to go home so we landed and climbed out of the plane. But then she suddenly wanted to take one more quick flight. "I'll be right back!" she said even though we cried. And we sat on the grassy runway with another pilot and watched her take off. And we watched until the climbing Piper Cub took a sudden nose dive and crashed straight to the ground.
That was a lifetime ago. A childhood full of missing her. Three kids of my own and another even worse heartbreak. But I always understood her. She left behind the greatest gift and I hear her whispering it every day:
Even if your parents beg you not to fly. Even though your friends and your husband wish you wouldn't fly. Even if your kids don't want you to fly. You gotta fly.