Hope you all had a pleasant Mother’s Day.
I got to spend some time with my mom on Sunday. (Okay..Mother-in-LAW)
Mary Trudeau, the matriarch of my wife’s clan, has had kind of a rough go of it in this, her 88th year. Her constant companion these days is an oxygen tank and a hose in her nose but her wits are still about her and that fabulous smile is always at the ready even when she’s not feeling all that chipper which now is the case more often than not.
Mary and Len Trudeau raised 8 kids in their little Alcester, South Dakota house and, Sunday, seven of those offspring gathered around the home kitchen table for what could be the last time. Len has been gone for a dozen years now and Mary..though still plenty feisty..has had to admit that she can no longer live alone so she’ll be staying with daughter, Maria and son-in-law Paul on their Sioux Center farm until she gets better or needs full-time professional care.
But Sunday wasn’t a sad occasion; never is when the Trudeau’s get together..laughter abounds. Still there was the unmistakable sense of finality in everyone’s glistening eyes at having to face and accept the reality of mortality. It’s tough to realize there’ll be no more of Mary’s roast beef or fried chicken dinners and home-made fruit pies served up from that tiny kitchen. But it will be tougher still when we lose the amazing lady who made that house a home.
Linda got to hear Captain Sully Sullenberger speak for the Sanford nurses gathering a few nights ago. He’s the U.S. Airways pilot who force landed his plane in New York’s Hudson River when it hit a flock of geese on take-off conking out the engines. Everyone on board survived the ordeal and Sullenberger became a national hero.Linda said he was a marvelous speaker..and humble too..saying he was no different than any other pilot thanks to the rigorous and continuous training that all airlines require.
Speaking of pilots. I found out this past week that my kid brother, Tom, has officially decided to give up the love of his life…well, his first love after God and family, of course.
Tom, like Sully, has made a career in the clouds. He graduated from SDSU in 1972 then joined the Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant fresh out of ROTC. Before long he was training to fly jet fighters which he did for the next 8 years of active duty and 14 more in the Air Guard. It was during his time in the guard that Tom began searching for a job flying commercial airliners. After brief stints with the now defunct Air Florida and People Express, he landed a pilot’s gig with Continental. On May 20th, he’ll close out 32 years in the skies with a final flight to Geneva. His wife, Ilene and daughter Erin will be among the passengers for that journey to Switzerland and back.
I wish I could tag along. I’ve never been on an airplane flown by my brother and it would be great fun to sneak into the cockpit and visit with the co-pilot and navigator to tell them about what a terrible driver Tom used to be on the ground.
Actually, in all his years and all the hours in the left seat he’s only had a couple emergencies i.e.: engine failures. But in both instances, Just like Capt. Sully said, the years of training and experience came to the forefront and he was able to bring the passengers, crew and aircraft to a safe landing.
Both my brother, Denny and I couldn’t be more proud of all Tom has accomplished..especially after he suffered a brain aneurism while jogging twelve years ago. Thanks to his ever present guardian angel, though, Tom not only survived but made a complete recovery.
May that same angel continue to be at your side as you safely soar over the Alps and home again next week. And, may you find satisfaction and comfort in your retirement knowing that you have had the rare honor of actually living the life written about here in the poignant poem “High Flight”
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.