My son, Tim, was featured on the cover of the September/October issue of Family Foundations magazine. When he first saw the magazine, he said, “Look at that. I’m famous!”
The magazine contained an article I wrote about “Letting Go.” Here is an excerpt:
Last summer, Tim (then 17) landed a “dream” job at the local parachuting club. A few weeks after he had started, Tim called from the club and calmly explained that his boss had shared with him that one of the perks of his job was free skydiving. So he asked if he could go skydiving, that afternoon – in about two hours, to be precise. I immediately dismissed the request, saying, “Tim, forget it. You’re not jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet.” I had spent the last 17 years of Tim’s life trying to protect him from danger, so why would I stop now?
“But, Mom,” he said, “I’ll have a parachute on and there’ll be an experienced jumper with me.” I hesitated, wanting to shout at him, “Are you crazy? Why would you want to jump out of an airplane?” But I didn’t. Instead, I said, “Couldn’t you just wait until another time?”
“Mom, today there are perfect conditions; it’s clear and there aren’t many tandem jumpers. They said I could do it today. Please.”
The instructor who made the tandem jump with Tim assured me that there were all kinds of backups and safety precautions: extra parachutes, an experienced jumper making the trip down with him, etc. But I was not happy about it. I prayed from the moment he stepped onto the airplane and continued praying. It was the longest 20 minutes of my life. My hands were shaking and I don’t think I actually breathed until he stepped onto the ground.
When he was close to landing, we could hear him screaming. In that first half-second, my motherly instincts kicked in and I panicked. “Is he okay?” I frantically asked my husband, standing nearby. Then I heard loud hearty laughter from Tim, still in the air above us.
He finally landed and the bright and happy expression on his face said it all. He kept saying thank you to the tandem instructor. But what surprised me was when he said, “Thanks, Mom, for letting me do that.”
I nodded, now relieved and happy that he was safe.
He tapped me on the shoulder. “Can I do it again next week?”
copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach
With thanks to Ann Gundlach and Family Foundations magazine