My parents both died fairly early in my life. My mother when I was a senior in college and my father a few years later. They never got to meet my wife, hell I didn't know her when my mother died and we were had recently started dating when my father died. I always thought my father was one of the smartest people I knew, especially about history. But about a lot of other things too.
I was thinking while in the shower - where I often do my best thinking it seems - and wondering what my kids thought of me. Do they think I'm as full of it as I often do? Or do I appear to know all (or most of) the answers like my father seemed to me. I sure don't feel like I know much of anything when you come right down to it. A lot of times I still think I'm a young man, searching for a lot of the right answers. My dad was 55 when he died. He seemed so wise. What did he think when we asked him for advice? So many times I wish I could call my mom or dad and ask them about something. So many times I wish they had met my wife and kids. I know looking backwards prevents you from looking forwards, but I'm allowed to wish occasionally aren't I?
I guess the recent hurricane that headed up north brought a lot of this up for me. When I was a kid I would often read these pictorial magazines the Providence Journal put out for after the 1938 hurricane and Hurricane Carol in 1954. Pictures of flooding and damage during the storms and pictures of the aftermath at my grandparent's place. They lived in a triple decker - a 3 story home where each floor was a separate apartment, very popular in the Providence, Boston, Worcestor area - in Providence where they had moved when my dad was 2 in 1931. My grandfather had fought some in WW1 and then had been stationed in Cuba. While there he had seen a hurricane up close so he had some idea what was happening when it hit. Well when the eye of the hurricane came over, a number of people thought the storm was over and went outside. My dad ran out onto the porch to see the mess from the storm but my grandfather knew better and went out there and got him back inside. Just in a nick of time as it turned out because when the eye passed and the winds howled from the other direction, the old tree next to the house came crashing down and wiped out the porches on all 3 floors on the way down.
I told some stories from my dad's childhood to my kids while they were growing up but I sure wish my father and mother could have told them the stories instead.
I was watching a program on tv tonight called Flightmares. Not a show to watch if you're scared of flying, believe me. And lets just say I'm not the best flyer around. Anyway the first story being told is by a survivor of Delta flight 191 into Dallas in 1985. He was talking about being on the flight, he was assigned to row 15 but as he was a smoker, he asked for a seat in the back where the smokers section was. Saved his life as all 4 people in row 15 died. I remember this day well. It was a Friday in August which can be a busy time for thunderstorms in Texas. My wife wanted us to meet for dinner after work with her sister at the Black Eyed Pea in Irving, just east of the airport. At this time, we lived on the west side of DFW airport but worked east of the airport. So about 5:30 we all got together and sat down to dinner. It was just starting to rain and the skies were looking pretty ominous.
As we got served, the skies opened and an intense thunderstorm broke out. A lot of thunder and lightning, some pretty close by. A little after 6 we heard this massive BOOM. Sounded like a lightning strike in the parking lot outside the restaurant. But we didn't think too much of it and finished our dinner. About 6:30 we finished dinner and started heading home. When we got outside, the skies had cleared off and as we looked to the west we could see a column of smoke by the airport and hear sirens all around us. We headed hom past the north side of the airport as that was where the activity was. When we got to the north end of the field we could see a plane in pieces in the grass between the runway and highway. The fence around the airport was flattened and a big water tank had a massive dent in the side. The tail, scorched but mostly intact, was near the water tower but pieces of plane were laying a lot further away in the airport. It was a very sobering sight.
Apparently a microburst - a severe downdraft in many thunderstorms - had caught the jet while landing, forcing it to the ground. It had hit a field a little north of Highway 114 in front of the airport, bounced back in the air a little then came down crossing the highway crushing a couple of cars and killing a driver on his birthday. An engine was torn off when it hit a lightpole by the highway which started a fire on the wing. It then skidded onto the airport grass. If the water tanks weren't there just inside the fence, the plane probably skids to a stop without too much more damage though there's still a fire to contend with. But they were there and the left wing smashed into the front tank causing the plane to basically disintegrate. Before the plane hit the tanks, the tail section had separated from the plane. Most of the survivors were in that section. 126 of 152 passengers diend as well as 8 of the 11 crew members.
The tail section remained there in the airport grass for at least a week or 2 and that dent in the tank wasn't repaired for quite some time. I remember seeing it laying there as I went past on my way to and from work. I drove that route north of the airport to work and back most days as I worked northeast of the airport in Farmers Branch. My wife worked southeast of the airport so she usually went on Highway 183 south of the airport. If we hadn't met up for dinner that night, it's quite possible I would have been over on 114 in front of the airport when the plane crashed. I'm glad I wasn't. Everytime I fly, especially when we land, flight 191 comes to mind at some point. I don't fly too often.
Great post. Thanks for sharing.
I think most of us feel like our parents are filled with wisdom.
I'm sure yours do also neo.
However, as they mature they'll probably realize that what you're full of isn't necessarily wisdom :)
My brother-in-law was working as a field reporter for a local TV station when the crash you desribed happened. He said it was probably the toughest story he ever had to report.
It must be such a feeling of hopelessness to be in that situation. You know the plane is going down and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Right now my kids are 19, 17, and 14, so they think they know all and my wife and I are dummies. People assure me that in another 5-10 years the older ones will come around.
My father lived until he was 80 and my mom is still around, so I consider myself very fortunate. I can guess with reasonable certainty that your parents would have loved the Poker Queen and would have been very proud to see the man you grew up to be. And that they would be seeking your guidance and advice, not the other way around.
Considering my 13 yr old daughter constantly refers to me as idiot or that I have mental issues I guess I know where she stands. But she loves me so I guess I can live with it. Of course she might be conning me just to keep the video games and manga flowing. Maybe I do have mental issues.
Ditto what VJ said.
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Thank you goodbye,
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