Grateful to be alive at almost fifty-two years old, I am mindful that I do not have unlimited time in this place. I lost my Mother when I was sixteen, she being just 43. Life has been much more challenging than I ever could have anticipated, losing my 17 year old son to suicide nearly two years ago, has literally cast me into utter darkness. I have been fighting to ‘stay here’ since Jericho left us; for the majority of the last two years I have been in bed, crying, trying to understand who I am now, plan my future, and desperately trying to convince my brain that I want to LIVE and have ‘fun’ again.
I have always considered myself, a woman with spirit, yet, just being a woman over fifty is something altogether different; just making it to fifty is a gift, as most of us are so painfully aware. I had a heart attack at forty, and thought that was the end of my adventure-however, here I am, continuing to struggle through life’s ups and painful downs, still holding onto my spirit and retaining my childlike wonder- understanding how ignorance truly can be bliss, wishing I was a bit ignorant these days-because I want to live out my life without being in fear of aging and all the pain that comes with it.
So, in gratitude, I receive every single day as a gift and an opportunity to LIVE as well as I can; so many of those days have been tucked under my covers, tears and cracker crumbs my companions. Today is the ‘present’, a present, a gift…so, this Woman with Spirit over 50 decided to go Wing Walking! Fun Fact—there is only one school in the world that actually teaches Wing Walking, they happen to winter not far from me, so I booked a flight. Of course I ordered a flight suit costume for the occasion, as the pictures are such a treasure, especially on those dark days when I am down, need to smile, know, and remember that I haven’t always been down.
Deep inside, the very thought of climbing onto the upper wing of a biplane, traveling up to four thousand feet in the air…yeah, it scares me, however-as a ‘fun girl’ or as we like to refer to ourselves, ‘Women with Spirit over 50’, I just want to do it—I know it will be extraordinary; a once in a lifetime joy ride for sure!
The owners of the Mason Wing Walking Academy, Mike and Marilyn, are absolutely wonderful, patient and so very encouraging, they make you believe that you can do this; even though I never did the sequence correctly in practice or used the same footing or hand holds twice. Four hours of practicing later, it was go time-I suited up and then, began to feel physically and mentally weak. I have lost about twenty pounds since my son died, losing a shocking amount of strength as well. Marilyn reminds me that it’s not about upper body strength- my determination to have fun takes over; no matter how difficult or awkward it gets-I am going to have fun!
I wasn’t prepared for the full force of the wind-no matter what you are told about how powerful the wind will be, it just isn’t real, until you are trying to move forward in it. With every bit of my determination, I climbed up onto the top wing and buckled in, giving the pilot my thumbs up, ready to roll signal; and boy did we ever! These were ‘Air Show Quality’ acrobatics- Hammer Heads, Loops and Rolls, performed with me standing atop the wing, it was intense, exhilarating, and of course, more than a little bit scary. Finally, Mike, the pilot and owner, signals me to come back down with a huge ‘Wing Wave’, I breathed a huge sigh of relief whilst buckling into my seat for the few moments break before maneuvers on the lower wing were to begin.
Another ‘Wing Wave’ and I was unbuckling and stepping out onto the wing; trying to step carefully on the marked locations; the wind was determined to blow me off- I refused. The harness, however, did manage to wrap around my neck; thankfully I was able to hold on to the ‘Javelin’, a broomstick type apparatus with my thighs and remove the noose. After that, I wrapped my legs around the ‘Javelin’ and held on tight-all the acrobatics felt even more intense hanging onto the Javelin, I am not sure why. Of course, knowing your adventure is about to end, changes your attitude from anything resembling fear to being ready to volunteer to do it again-it is funny how that works. We had a smooth landing and were met with cheers from the Wing Walking fans and general airport traffic.
Wing Walking is absolutely amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone-especially the group I count myself privileged to be a “Women with Spirit over 50”