Winter 2011 #10
We are up in the air.
Figuratively that’s often the case; today, though, it is literally true. My Favourite Wife, Little One and I are flying home from my mother’s funeral service. Completing our foursome Bugger, the power chair, is riding safely in the cargo hold somewhere down below.
We very nearly stayed at home, the logistics of travelling so far with not one, but two disabled passengers seemed way beyond our reach. But early last week I took my chair out to the airport, and after much measuring, weighing, discussion and consulting of manuals the staff assured me that we could indeed fly. My ever-resourceful brother flew down to be my travelling companion. Some people call him “Q”, for his uncanny ability to resource almost any exploit. An aviation journalist and amateur pilot, he is allowed onto the normally prohibited space of the busy runway apron; and it was fascinating to watch him at work instructing the Captain and ground crew in the finer points of loading my wheelchair onto their plane! He’s a hero, and I could not have flown without him.
Little One and I flew separately. For her first experience in the air there would be just one parent to give her undivided attention, and definitely no alternate parent in her sight. Little One is a walking-talking-wedge, dividing and conquering with the skill of a political campaigner. But she did very, very well, because she is a hero too. She has been a wonderful girl all weekend. (…except for the moment when she oh-so-innocently persuaded me to show her how the hotel key-card worked. With the door barely open a crack the temptation was too great. Through she shot, a ten-year old filly on the home straight, full tilt, with Bugger and Mother flat tack behind. We finally caught her just as she rounded the farthest corner of our hotel floor. She is our Little (tricky) Hero.
My Best Girl; now she is a hero of the constant, enduring type. Her heroism is not the sort that emerges in moments of crisis – although it can. She is an everyday hero of the most uncommon kind. Every day she carries us, her family, in her hands and in her heart. Without her we have no tomorrow. She is my Favourite Hero.
My father, now he is a true Hero too. I wrote of him last week, and he is still the same: embracing so many with love and gratitude and peace and fun and love. We have been to a funeral, but we have been fully alive. In coming together to say farewell, our large and diverse family have met one another more deeply and afresh. I can only speak for myself, but my sadness is far outweighed by joy. We have lost one of our own, and in one sense must be poorer. But in dying we live; and a life well lived lives on: not only in its own eternal way, but in the life and love we share as we all live and grow. My mother’s sons, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great grand children, and on and on; one and all we are family, an immeasurable wealth.