By Ken Craig
I was 17 years old when I realized my mom was not somebody to trifle with. Previously, I had seen her as a pretty reserved soul; but when she willingly participated in something that terrified me, I realized I was in awe of her.
This epiphany occurred the summer we moved to Hawaii. Mid-flight, my dad announced that he had arranged for us to go skydiving once we arrived. This was, hands down, the absolute worst thing I had ever heard him say. I was confident this would kill me.
On the north side of Oahu, in a spacious, grassy field, stands a tiny hut, where Bubba and Buddy hang out all day, enjoying umbrella drinks and admiring the makeshift airplane they must have stolen from some unsuspecting crop-duster. We pulled up, threw some money at them, and were instructed that we’d be jumping “tandem” (attached at the waists by a thin cord) and that no other instruction was necessary.
Dad jumped first, and then, with zero hesitation, my mom climbed aboard, went up two miles into the tmosphere, and leapt; like she thought nothing of it.
“Let’s see, what could I do between making sandwiches for lunch and making sure everyone has their swimsuits for the beach….oh, I know. I have just enough time to squeeze in a parachute jump.”
Well, now I HAD to go. I climbed aboard the plane and took a seat on the wood floor. We reached the two-mile point, and the instructor opened the door to reveal nothing but blue.
“Climb out the door and hang onto the wing,” the guide instructed me.
“Pass,” I commented.
I inched my way out the door, clinging to that wing so tightly a few of my fingernails may still be attached to it. The instructor slid out, straddled over me and snapped the belt to attach us at the waist.
“Let go of the wing, you’ll swing between my legs.”
“What are my other options?”
Swinging between his legs, I peered out at the nothingness beneath me, unsure when he was going to jump, when I was going to fall, or when I was going to wet my pants.
Suddenly, I was plummeting. My stomach promptly fell all the way to the earth and waited for me under a palm tree. Somewhere around the falling rate of 90 mph my adrenaline kicked in, and I was having a blast. I felt immortal, like I had somehow, in this single act, conquered life.
The parachute finally opened and I was peacefully floating, in no hurry to land. All my senses were alive and they were having a “come as you are” party. I was the host. They loved me.
We approached the ground and I heard the instructor mumble “Uh-oh.” This did not comfort me.
Apparently a strong wind is needed to slow down the chute and land you gently on the ground; and we had no such wind. I hadn’t taken physics, but I didn’t see how “pre-running” was going to somehow store up a reserve of “running power” so we’d have a better chance of landing softly. I wasn’t in a position to argue, however, so I started Fred Flinstone-ing in the air. It made no difference. I hit the ground, landed on my face, and slid fifteen feet or so, with an instructor on my back.
I got up, shook off the dirt, glared at my dad, and hugged my mom. She had long ago claimed my heart and child-like devotion. But now, she had something else. I would never again refer to her as “reserved.”
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Editor’s note: Please visit Ken Craig’s blog, which contains more of his writings and information on ordering his book.