2012-05-12 / Viewpoints

Through An Old Timer’s Eyes

BY HOWARD ‘MAC’ MCDONALD

Sunday is Mother’s Day, when we honor our mothers if we are blessed enough to still have them in our lives, or remember them fondly if we are not. Some of the memories I have of my mother will bring a tear to my eye. After I was born, my mom had TB and she went to a TB hospital for the next two years. My sevenyear old brother and I went to live with our grandmother and my three-year-old sister went to live with our aunt and uncle. My dad also came to my grandmother’s house and for the next two years that was the story of my life. My great-grandfather played the fiddle and I would dance and everyone would laugh. I don’t know if people still laugh at me now when I shake a leg, but as an old-timer I couldn’t care less. I remember the day my mom finally came home and, even though I had never seen her, I knew it was her.

Hooray, hooray – it’s the month of May! The way our weather has been this year, the flowers and birds have been awfully confused. They had a moonlit night for the high school prom. I believe moonlight and flowers are a perfect formula for romance. I went to three proms when I was in school. As a sophomore, a girl from the junior class asked me to be her escort and, being the perfect young gentleman, I accepted. I was not exactly a Fred Astaire on my feet, so by the time the night was over I’ll bet that poor girl wished that she had worn her steel-toed slippers. By the next two proms, I had greatly improved my dancing skills and to this day I can hold my own in ballroom dancing.

There are seven known people in this country who can remember every moment of their lives. Can you even imagine being able to do that?

CBS now has a TV cop show based on that same idea, called “Unforgettable.” The star is a cop who remembers everything and she is a real whiz when it comes to solving crimes.

When I was in the Air Force, I was an instructor and flight engineer. I had to depend on my memory when I trained student flight engineers. We had to commit to memory the emergency checklist. If you missed one word, the flight examiner would fail you. I had a real good record, as every student I trained passed his check ride.

Once you have been a flight crew member or an aviator of any sort, the experiences never leave you. It stays in your blood for the rest of your life.

I was reminded of that when I received an essay from one of my old flying partners. I guess he still lives in the past, like I do. If you have ever piloted a plane or served on a flight crew, I think this will ring a bell with you:

“Once the wings go on, they never come off, whether they can be seen or not. It fuses to the soul through adversity, fear and adrenaline, and no one who has ever worn them with pride, integrity and guts can ever sleep through the ‘call of the wild’ that wafts through bedroom windows in the deep of the night.

“When a good pilot or aircrew leaves the ‘job’ and retires, many are jealous, some are pleased, and yet others who have already retired wonder. We wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know.

“We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times. We know in the world of flying there is a fellowship which lasts long after the flight suits are hung up in the back of the closet. We know even when he throws them away, they will be on him every step and breath that remains in his life.

“We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and, in his heart, still is. Because we flew, we envy no man on earth.”

So, to my pea brain what that really means is once a flyer, always a flyer. So be like a flyer, honor your mother, and keep your powder dry.

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