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“Nine O Nine”

October 25, 2011

On Saturday, I stood on small observation deck at our regional airport.  My ten-year old daughter stood beside me, peering down the runway.  At the end of the runway, a B-17 named “Nine O Nine” increased power in its four piston engines and began to head down the runway.  We watched together as this beautiful plane lumbered down the runway and slowly climbed into the clear blue sky of that crisp autumn afternoon.  We stood there for a few moments, watching the plane before heading towards the steps to head down from the deck.  My daughter was talking excitedly about the plane she just saw taking off and clutching her small die-cast model of the same plane.  Never in a million years did I imagine she would enjoy looking at vintage aircraft and listen to me ramble on about the plane and the crew and missions they flew over Germany over 60 years ago.

As we drove home, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw my daughter holding the plane in one hand and looking out the window and up at the sky, almost like she was trying to see the plane all over again.  I was great seeing her like this, and it was at that moment I realized that this is probably how my father felt after taking me to my first air show as a kid.  For the briefest of moments, I was happy.  I almost felt like a normal person again, as this happiness replaced and anger and sadness.

I wish I could say this feeling lasted for a long time.  I wish I could say that I was no longer filled with anger at my dad for his selfish behavior that ultimately led to his death.  I wish my dad were still here, so I could call him and let my daughter tell him all about the planes she saw and how we watched it take off.  But, as of right now, none of these can happen.  My dad, who taught me so much in life, but also gave me a love of flying and of history, drank away these opportunities.  He left a void in my life that I am having a hard time filling.  It seems every step forward I make along this painful journey is promptly followed by one step back.  This leaves me treading water and I am getting tired of treading water.

But, for the first time since this ordeal began several months ago, instead of struggling while treading water, I was thrown a life vest.  It was unknowingly thrown to me by my wife and daughter.  My wife helped by simply insisting that I go see the planes, and my daughter helped by simply wanting to come with me.  It was the two of them, by these smallest of gestures or actions, which buoyed my spirits and let me know that while this disease is horrible and it will take a long time for me to come to terms with loss of my father, it is not all bleak and dreary.  I am still very angry at my father for the choices he made and I am still sad that he is gone.  But I will continue moving forward, enjoying these moments that I shared with my daughter.  I know that the next time there is a moment like this, it will last just a bit longer than the last.  This will be how I heal and this will be how I move forward.

While my dad is not here, I know he shared this moment with me and he is smiling as well.   As always, I still miss my dad.

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From → Alcoholism

One Comment
  1. That is so true, Everything that you expressed is universally true about losing someone we love. Thank you for posting this so that those of us who care can see your healing. Your daughter is so blessed to have a loving dad.

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