Archive for November 2009

November 1, 2009

MY BIG DAY – JULY 16, 2009
Bev Hardy

As I walked to the plane, I was going back over the details of how I had managed to let myself get talked into this. At 83 years old, I should have known better. What was I doing here? I was afraid of flying and afraid of heights. I hated roller coasters. If my kids knew they’d probably say “don’t”. I was the first in the plane, and couldn’t even figure out where to sit. There were no seats, much less a bathroom or drinking fountain. The old retired United Parcel plane was just an empty shell inside, except for a couple of long things that might be called benches. As my instructor came in he told me to sit straddle legged on the bench.

Lloyd my 80 year old retired psychiatrist friend and his instructor were next. I tried to tell myself that if he wasn’t scared, then I shouldn’t be. But I was! Then came Shelly Anderson.
This was all her fault. Shelly had been a friend for years. She was also my massage therapist. When I saw her last February she was bubbling over with excitement and delight. She had just been sky diving for the first time! As she described the thrill of it, I made the mistake of say, “It sounds like fun”. A few weeks later she had called wanting me to set a date. I had the presence of mind to ask her about the altitude. When she told me 12,000 feet, I explained that with my troubles breathing at 4,000 feet altitude, my doctor would never approve. I had assumed that was the end of it.

Then on a Wednesday night in July she called to tell me that my friends Kathy and Stan Carr and Sharon and Lloyd were going tomorrow to jump and that she had arranged for oxygen for me in the plane. My excuse was gone. I figured I could gain courage from my friends, especially Stan and Kathy, although I did wonder about Stan’s hurt knee. It wasn’t until the next morning after I got in the van, that I found out it would only be Lloyd and I jumping. When we got to the hanger in Lompoc, we had to fill out a long legal form that needed to be initialed every 2 or 3 lines. I carefully read it hoping to find a loop hole to get me out of this. Ah, at last, I found on page 3, “I have told my doctor I am going to do this and my doctor approves”. “Hey, Shelly I called out I can’t initial this. I haven’t told my doctor and I won’t lie”. Shelly called out to Lloyd our psychiatrist friend – “Hey Lloyd is it okay if Bev jumps?” Lloyd said “Sure” and my last excuse was gone.

As the plane lifted off I was thinking that if this killed me, at least I had lived an interesting and full life. And, if I didn’t make it, it would be an interesting way to go. Although I hated flying I decided I might as well enjoy the view and look out at the beautiful Lompoc flower fields. The instructor hooked us both together and instructed me to tuck my legs back when he told me to and to keep my hands hooks in the straps. We had been the first in and we would be the last out. The wind poured in when they opened the doors. I watched the others go. Then it was our turn. I tucked my legs under as told. He leaned over. I have enough trouble with balance on land. When he leaned over I thought I was going to fall flat on y face inside the plane and instinctively put my feet down. I tucked them under as he straightened up, but could not stop the instinct when he leaned over again. He finally had to give me a big shove to get out the door, and then I could tuck my feet under.

My Certificate reads: “Be it known that Beverly Hardy has experienced that adrenaline rush of a lifetime, by willfully leaving a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet, and flying earthrward in excess of 120 mph –

The free fall was only supposed to last a minute. When I finally got up the nerve to open my eyes, I was face down with the earth rushing up to meet me. I closed them again and started counting to 60. I got to 30 seconds and figured it should be over, but it seemed to take forever for the parachute to gently open and slow us down. The instructor had asked me several times on the way down if I was okay. I just nodded my head yes and was amazed I could hear him. Then as we floated gently down I enjoyed the flower fields and the colorful parachutes below us.

Yes, I did it once and will never do it again. I felt good having done it, to know I had conquered my fear. There was another added benefit. My husband died 8 years ago. This was the first time in 8 years I had sat in a man’s lap. A friend asked if I had screamed on the way down and I told her, “No, I was afraid my dentures would fall out.” Yes I did it once and will PROBABLY never do it again!!

November 1, 2009

A CLOSE ENCOURNTER WITH THE LAW
by Shirley Palmer

This is a story that we can laugh about now, however as it unfolded I was “shaking in my boots” as the saying goes. It was October 1984, a warm day in Southern California. My Mother-in-law had passed away on September 10, 1984 in Cave Junction, Oregon. Her instructions were that she was to be cremated and she wanted half of her ashes to go down the same river where my Father-in-law’s ashes had been strewn in 1978 when he passed away. His ashes went down a river which was his favorite fishing hole. So ½ of her ashes were to go down the same river in Oregon and she wanted the other ½ divided – ½ on her Mother’s grave and ½ on her Father’s grave – both buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, Ca. The instructions were explicit, and all of her family understood, so after her Memorial service at her Church the family men set off for the fishing hole and dumped a portion of the ashes into the river. We women of the family chose to stay home and fix dinner, since there were a lot of rattle snakes in the area of the fishing hole, and we didn’t choose to encounter them!

Now we are back in Southern California on this hot October day and my brother-in-law and Bud’s sister (Carole) had driven up from San Diego and the four of us were to drive to Forest Lawn (with the bag of ashes in hand) and put half on Grandma’s grave & half on Grandpa’s grave. Only detail is that in California you just can’t put ashes anywhere – and sprinkling them on the top of a grave is not allowed. Friday night we sat down and planned our strategy – we needed a “master plan” to accomplish this illegal “caper”!! We decided that we would get up in the morning, have breakfast, then go over to Von’s Market and buy some flowers. We’d go to Forest Lawn – take the vase out – put some ashes under the vase, then fill it with flowers and go on to the next grave and do the same thing – and easy as that, Bud’s Mother’s wishes would have been complied with.

Saturday was a very warm day so I decided to wear a sundress. My sister-in-law had long pants & a blouse on (this is an important detail of the story). We drove up to Forest Lawn and after about 10 minutes of searching we finally found Grandma’s grave. Well we couldn’t find the vase to start with, but Bud with his trusty pocket knife dug around the grass and we finally located the vase, cut all the grass away from it – however try as we might – the vase would not come out of the ground. We pulled and tugged and twisted – all to no avail. There was a lady putting flowers on a grave about 25 yards up from us and I noticed she got her water from the faucet – but was watching us. She arranged her flowers – but still had an “eagle eye” on us. I told my family that we were being watched. About then Bud went to my car, looking for something to pry the vase loose. He here he comes up with the jumper cables, which was all I had in my trunk. He thought he might be able to grab on to the handle of the vase with the grips on the cables and pull it free. Once the jumper cables came out, the “spy” lady got in her car and left. I told my co-harts that I was nervous, but they were too busy trying to free the vase they didn’t pay any attention to me. It wasn’t five minutes and here comes the Forest Lawn Police Car pulling up and parking right behind my car.

Here we are the 4 of us – standing over a grave with a bag of ashes, a bouquet of flowers and jumper cables – it doesn’t look good. My sister-in-law handed me the bag of ashes and said, “Shirley, sit down quick on the ashes – you have a dress on and it will cover them up”!! So down I plopped sitting on the bag and holding the bouquet in my lap. The Forest Lawn policeman came up and asked if we were having a problem?? Bud explained that we couldn’t seem to get the vase out of Grandma’s grave. So the nice police man offered to help us!! He went to his car and got something like a crowbar and came back and BAM – he broke the vase. So we took it out in pieces and he told us not to worry – he’d go get us another one! So off he went in search of a new vase. Bud put the damn jumper cables away – I know that’s what brought the cop in the first place, and my sister-in-law (Carole) who had become the Matriarch of the family told me to stay seated – don’t move!!! The grass was a little damp, but hey – I did what I was told.

Back came the cop with a new vase – it didn’t fit – so off he went again. I wanted to pour some ashes in the empty hole while he was gone, but I was voted down as he might see them and become suspicious – maybe we’d go to jail!!! Yikes – was I a part of a criminal offense – just trying to oblige my Mother-in-law’s wishes. So there I sat for a never-ending time it seemed to me. Finally the vase arrived and nothing would do but the cop had to go fill it with water. We thanked him profusely and he just stood around chit chatting with the guys – he’d served in Vietnam etc etc. Meanwhile I’m still stuck on the ground concealing “the evidence”!! Then he did tell us that the lady that I had suspected (of spying) had reported us as having jumper cables at the grave. Bud responded, “Honestly, officer, I wasn’t trying to jump-start my Grandma”!! He laughed and finally left and I didn’t move until his car was out of sight!!

By this time I had sat on the ground so long I could barely get up. We quickly went about our chore and said “Praise the Lord” -we have complied with Mom’s wishes – almost! We still had to do Grandpa. His grave was across the street from Grandma’s and when we got there, we found the exact same situation that we had encountered before. Grass had grown over the vase. I spoke up and said, “I don’t know about the rest of you – but I’m not going through that experience again – no way!” They all agreed – but what to do??? So my sister-in-law and I took off our shoes – dumped the ashes onto the grass on the top of the grave and worked them into the grass with our bare feet – illegal – but accomplished. We did a very good job – nobody would have noticed.

And so goes the story of our near brush with the law. The four of us laughed all the way home until the tears were rolling down our cheeks. We knew Bud’s mother was up in heaven looking down on us and having one of her big belly laughs. She had one of the heartiest laughs ever. It was a story never to be forgotten. Our sister-in-law and brother-in-law have since passed on, but to this day I’ll always remember that week-end.
All of our careful planning – it was such a good plan. If only my husband hadn’t gotten out those damn jumper cables – but then there wouldn’t have been this story to tell.