Where does time go? I mean, really? We look at old photos and video and the memories come flooding back. We wonder, as we review just a short series of photographs, how a cute baby girl could grow into a pretty young lady in such a short time? And, as I look back at my own life’s photos, I am amazed how quickly I became so, uh, mature!
This last trip to Nebraska made it quite apparent to FD and me that time is slipping away ever so fast. We generally stay with my sister Jules when we go up north, and this time, when our niece Em and her brother Sid came out of the front door to greet us, I swear they had grown a foot since we saw them in December of last year. Sid is quite athletic looking – all muscular and tall, and Em… well the braces are off, her blonde hair is longer, and she has evolved into quite a beautiful, young lady.
My sister and her family live in a very small farming community. My brother-in-law, CF, is the town go-to man for everything, and performing maintenance to help keep the little village running is his job. He is also a member of the volunteer fire department and he actively sits in on town board meetings. When you live in a small community like this, people help one another, they look out for each other, and they get involved. I knew Memorial Day would be a busy one for CF, as he would be responsible to make sure things looked spot-on in the little town that day!
I, myself, have never been one to visit cemeteries on Memorial Day, and am ashamed to admit I have only attended a couple of Memorial Day services in my entire life. Growing up, my family always went to various cemeteries to decorate graves when our grandparents were alive, but after they passed away, this tradition just fell away from me.
So, switching back to this Memorial Day morning, CF was up bright and early to put flags up along main street and also to get the flags hung out at the cemetery. After he returned, we all took off to the community building for breakfast where the locals gathered to eat a bite before heading off to memorial services at the cemetery. Always looking for photo opportunities, I grabbed my camera at the house before walking to the cemetery, just a couple of blocks away.
I was both amazed and impressed by all of the folks who showed up for Memorial Day services! There were people of all ages – some lived in town, some were rural folks, and many were visitors from out-of-town. Some pulled up in cars, but many walked the short distance from the community building just a few blocks away. Several folks helped the handicapped and the elderly, while parents and grandparents held the hands of little kids so they would stay put – at least for a while. Once the honor guard was situated, the main speaker, a veteran himself, gave a straightforward speech about appreciating and respecting not only our veterans, but the families who endured in their absence or were left behind when a loved one did not return. I had never thought about that before. As I looked around at all of the graves, I wondered about the people who had never been in a war, but who suffered because of a war. No one in my family had served in any war, so my family had never been directly affected by those circumstances. Suddenly, I was humbled in a way I had not been in a long time.
Of course I was not allowed to stay in thoughtful mode long because my danged iPhone began ringing in the middle of the services! Thank goodness the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway engines pulling about one hundred rail cars had roared through just prior to that moment. Still, I was mortified – I had made a spectacle of myself! Or so I thought. As it turned out, very few people looked my way, and I also saw about a dozen folks hurriedly reaching into their own pockets or purses to switch off their phones. Even so, I was prepared for some smart-aleck remarks after the services but, thankfully, no one said a word. And this simple courtesy made the experience of “small town America” all the more pleasing.
After the Memorial Day ceremony ended, I was happy for the chance to meet a gentleman and his wife who were originally from this area of Nebraska, but now reside in Ohio. Verne and I had connected online after he read my blog post, “A Bird’s Eye View“, and we vowed to get together if we were ever in the area at the same time. I was even more excited to learn that he wanted to take us flying in his twin-engine plane that afternoon! And even more thrilling, Em was asked to co-pilot! Evidently, she had co-piloted with Verne once before.
I will not play the part of the bragging auntie who drones on and on about how her nieces and nephews are the brightest little stars in the galaxy. They are all gifts and each one shines brightly in their own right. However, I will say that Em is a courageous, free spirit, and I wish a hundred times over I had her tenacity and pluck to pursue and achieve dreams. She is a bright star in the Universe. She delights us with music by playing various instruments. She is athletic, she sings, she enjoys motocross, and she flies planes and helicopters. Every bit of this came to her because she worked at it. Her parents are just common people like the rest of us. But Em showed a true interest, kept asking questions, and sought opportunities with people who could help her. It was all won by hard work and a tenacity to keep after her dreams.
As we began preparing to board the plane, Verne told us it would be a bumpy flight that day. It was already heating up and big fluffy clouds were building. I was panicked by that! I am not a good flyer on bumpy flying days. Thank goodness Verne’s wife, who is also a pilot, was sitting in back with FD, CF and me, and she helped me deal with my anxiety. FD was probably happy about that too, since most of the flight he had to photograph the aerial shots and endure my death grip on his leg!! Still, Em did an excellent job at the helm, and Verne’s sense of humor and continual encouragement to Em helped me too. And CF, who sat across from me, gently chided me with his humor. Again, like everything else I had experienced that day, this adventure was also about people helping people.
Next week, Emily will be flying to New York City to play her clarinet in the Middle School Honors Performance at Carnegie Hall. She will fly her first commercial flight, not at the helm, but sitting back in coach. I am absolutely thrilled for her to be going to NYC! Can you imagine how exciting this will be for her? At the age of fourteen, as Emily is, I was shy and had no self-confidence at all. Now, at the age of 53, I am just beginning to find my courage and “pluck” in life. I always was a late bloomer! But oh, how I am loving this time of my life… flying high as I evolve into who I dream to be – a writer!
I want to share this video link “NYC Bound“. I have watched it a dozen times if not more, and each time my eyes well up with tears. Not because I see how Em is evolving and growing into this beautiful free-spirit, but because I should have been that girl growing up. I am happy when I see young people who follow their dreams and they fly high… because it is what they were born to do!
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…