206 Hearthstone Reach
Peachtree City GA 30269
I confess. It is all her fault – our current Obsession. A school teacher, she decided she wanted to do something ‘exciting’ for spring break last year. So, we went to Jamaica experienced the Jamaican Bobsled and the collocated zip line – about on par with Georgia Cat IV river rafting (Deliverance). Better than kissing your sister, but… Our grand children are unfortunately located in Kaneohe on the island of Hawaii so we have to visit them two or three times a year, usually for my July birthday and always for Christmas. It is a long 9 hour flight from Atlanta, but we do have our obligations. And infrequently, we fly 9 hours south to Paulina’s homeland.
I digress – back in Kaneohe (which means bamboo man – oops, digressing again) Paulina started talking about doing something more exciting than a zip line. Fortunately (or not) Oahu has gliders on one end of Dillingham Field and Skydiving on the other. It is part of the North Shore experience and I usually receive glider rides as presents. Paulina’s brother, an engineer, has several thousand hours in gliders with his private aero club in Santiago, Chile. So Paulina had a few glider rides – but never a Skydive.
After she talked about Skydiving in front of our three grand children (boys – 2, girl -1) for several days, I finally asked the kids, “Would you rather tell your friends that your Grandmother bought three new purses or jumped out of an airplane?” You know their reply.
Her first of seventeen Skydives solves a recurring problem we all face: “What present do you want for ____?” My problem is solved, how about yours? (Thankfully she understands the Weather Gods which you would expect after a winter in New Hampshire when the snow was drifting over the ski lifts and three winters in Oscoda, Michigan (Where?) We will have been married for 17,049 days on May 25th. This is remarkable in that Paulina is only 39.
How did we meet? The neighbor from across the street was ‘dating’ her while she was attending U of M, living in the dorm with her mother, following her four month European tour. The Argentinean boys on the liner home told her go to Miami to have a good time. After a month at home in Chile occasionally seeing her polo playing fiancé, she was in Miami for the spring semester. I first saw her at the Burger King between the girls dorm and Ponce de Leon Junior High with my neighbor. We were meeting several couples for a beach party. The following Tuesday I took her to Matheson or Tahiti Beach – that’s when I first saw her $300 Italian mesh bathing suit. That evening we went to the library. We stood up dates with others after that. (Her fiancé? He moved to Italy and married a princess – really.)
When I first was contacted about the reunion, my reaction was … The only reason I could think of going was to settle up with some kid who put a choke hold on me after he had lost a fight he started with me, had admitted defeat and had left the paved court. But that was just junior high and I figured he had become either a preacher or a lawyer – so why bother. Then I began thinking about all the other things I’ve done and experienced. Many would trigger memories. A few weeks ago, I saw pictures of President Obama in a fortified South Korean position, looking toward North Korea. Hell, one morning my crew came off alert on Guam and a few hours later we were flying our B-52 along the DMZ. The following day, we were flown on a KC-135 to Osan AB and on to Panmunjom in an Army helicopter. We went into the building where the cease fire agreement was signed and stepped over the painted line into North Korea. This was only a few months after a North Korean soldier attacked and killed a coalition soldier with an axe
I flew with Chuck Yeager – just administrative support, but how few can say that. Memorable moments: First solos are memorable, but many seemed to be things which would naturally happen. I remember my first heavy weight refueling, on loading 120,000 pounds of JP-4. But my most rewarding was an on load of 60,000 pounds where for the first time I wasn’t sweating like a pig… And the adrenalin rush from my first Skydive…
Our sons are great, the younger one lives in Atlanta and is a systems integrator for ADP productivity and accountability management products. The older one – easier to explain. You’ve all seen ‘Hunt for Red October’ – he was a sonar tech on an attack sub out of Pearl Harbor, qualified as Navy diver and went with the SEALs on classified missions. He is now the XO of a Navy Seahawk helicopter squadron – hopefully to be the CO for their eight month deployment in September. He is having a grand time surfing all the ‘warm’ waters of the world (not quite ‘Apocalypse Now’) – and recently ashore in Dubai, the view from his hotel room was the Palm Islands. He and his gorgeous wife Carolyn, can really work (charm) a room…
I’ve been describing adventures – that’s why I’m going to the reunion – It is an adventure.
Oh, my current adventure -- Skydiving. I realized that physically I wasn’t performing at the level I wanted – the perils of aging – lower back pain, not to mention 9 months of chemo therapy with radiation and three major operations for colorectal cancer. My first support group is a local breast cancer network and my chemo buddy, a two time survivor is interesting: model, song writer and unusually creative. We would go to doctor appointments together and she would be reading Elle and Scientific American waiting for me. My next support group (colorectal) didn’t form up until last summer. Why mention the two groups? Listening to the participants I finally sensed a common thread. The physical therapy – medically prescribed – following these procedures including aging, only take people to the minimum functional level. In the hospital following abdominal surgeries, a therapist taught me how to walk in such a way that promoted healing without damage and kept me from tripping and damaging myself. In essence, we all are being taught to hobble along. Not. Although I was continuing my yoga and Pilates themed group classes, I realized that I was in a physical rut and needed a personal trainer to break out of it and reinforce the core basics -- In order to Skydive safely. And now with the women heading the support groups, we are working to identify the folks who are ready for and will benefit from personal training – to surpass routine medical therapy or like all of us – get us out of age related ruts.
I am also working with a couple high profile Skydiving ‘names’ on a safety initiative which could be phased in globally – Or Not.
The Messages I Leave:
CANCER. You are your own first line of defense – Men and Women. Set and follow a self inspection schedule. Have one or two friends who remind each other.
When someone is diagnosed, get them into a support group – any Cancer group to start. A family full of oncology doctors is not a substitute for a peer support group.
SMOKING AFTER CANCER DIAGNOSIS – STFU. Register a prescription for Chantix with a pharmacist. Search for free coupons. You’ll probably stop in the first week and the savings will pay for the remaining weeks. There is no good time to stop, but do it anyway. Chantix dreams can be fantastic – if you make them be…
SKYDIVING – fantastic adrenalin rush – extremely addictive. Join Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) Also, see: https://www.skydivingmuseum.org/PatMooreheadsTeam80/tabid/76/Default.aspx.