The plan was simple. I would get up early, grab a cup of coffee, then motor out to the local airport to meet my buddy, Earle. The two of us would then fly in Earle’s Cessna to the exotic sub-tropical city of Venice, Florida.
My mission was one of mercy. I’d committed to take an older gentleman flying. To give him an aerial tour of the Gulf Coast of Florida and the surrounding area. Although I’ve never met this fellow, I understand he has a real fondness for this big ‘ol sandbar where I, and he, make our home. And he is leaving soon, never to return. That’s weighty stuff.
Making this flight mattered to me. It meant something to Earle, too. Following through with the commitment to get both of them airborne was very nearly a sacred trust. I made a promise. A promise I was highly motivated to fulfill.
That was the logic of the mission and my plan for the day, anyway. Unfortunately, the reality was somewhat different. I woke up early, as intended. But with a throbbing head, a scratchy throat, and a grumbly belly, the idea of climbing into an airplane for a three hour tour over the central part of the state didn’t feel as inviting as it had during the planning phase.
A three hour tour. Remember the S.S. Minnow.
Although feeling less than sprightly, I still had a commitment to honor. I had to call Earle to let him know my plans were changing. As a a consequence, his plans were changing, too.
It’s never good to call someone early in the morning and ruin their plans for the day. But I did. And I felt horrible about it. Yet, Earle was gracious, as Earle always is. Perhaps that is why I consider him to be a good friend. I can only hope he’ll feel the same way after I harshed his mellow on a bright Saturday morning when the sky was blue and the airplane was ready to fly. He was already in the hangar preparing to go when his phone rang. It was me on the other end, with bad news to share.
My sincere apologies, old friend.
I also reached out to the woman who had requested the flight. She couldn’t have been sweeter, even if she was somewhat deflated to learn that her dad’s flight with me wasn’t going to happen. She wished me well and rang off with a cheery voice that nearly hid her perfectly understandable disappointment.
I think I like her. She’s got style. A trait that is all too often in short supply.
Enter, the mighty Internet. On Facebook I posted this, “Looking for a pilot who can give a scenic flight to a deserving gentleman this weekend. In Venice, FL. Any takers?”
Within minutes I had an answer. Another friend, Herk, replied from his hideaway in the Bahamas. He’d traveled there to get married, and with the ceremony only hours away, he took the time to share a couple trusted names and phone numbers with me.
In less than an hour the day transitioned from routine to gloomy to buoyant. What a ride.
The first name Herk shared with me agreed to take my passenger flying the very next day, Father’s Day. Serendipity. What might have been a lovely morning flight over the coast had become the promise of the ultimate Father’s Day gift from a loving daughter to a valued dad – thanks to a total stranger who shares a mutual friend with me, a person she and her father have never met.
Could life get any better than this? Other than the throbbing head, the scratchy throat, the grumbly belly, and the missed flight, I mean. In the larger scheme of things all is well. People have come together to share a common joy for life, even though they all see and experience that joy is slightly different ways.
There is hope for us all. Even me. Because I’m going back to bed. Where I belong. For a while at least.
Happy Father’s Day to you all, regardless of age, gender, or reproductive history. It’s a good day. Embrace it.