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Brothers and sisters

I recently had occasion to fly to Wyoming for the wedding of one of my son’s fraternity brothers. I’ve known the guy for 11 years and had met his mother, whom I enjoyed, and wanted to share in the festivities.

So, Thursday morning at 4:30 a.m. my feet hit the floor and off I ran to the Kansas City airport to catch a Denver connection. Thursday, as you all know, was the day before the big wind event that did so much damage in Blue Mound and southwest of there.

As my plane took off, the turbulent conditions did as well. My plane ride was similar to that of a roller coaster at Elitch Gardens (for the Denver folks that know the amusement park.) We were up and down, side to side and some of all of the above at the same time.

The poor family next to me had a six or seven year old that was barfing as the mom was trying to feed an upset toddler – “oh, my” was her response.

After we landed in Denver, the next part of my journey was to Rock Springs, Wyo. – honestly a hell hole mankind happened to land on, but whatever. We took off in a 50-passenger “puddle jumper” and I learned what jostled was all about. We were facing 70 mph winds and I learned that what we experienced from Kansas City to Denver was mild.

We were tossed around like a paper airplane; a woman across from me lost her cookies and looked like death warmed over. We ended up circling over Rock Springs waiting for the wind to subside; we tried one attempt at landing and ended up going back to Denver.

Five hours later, now 9 p.m., we all load back on the plane, this time fully loaded with people, and start the journey to Rock Springs again. This time we made it to our destination.

What was funny about the second leg was that most of us who were on the first flight ended up in the back end of the plane on the second flight. After we landed, we all clapped and whooped – making flight attendants and other passengers wonder what was going on.

The wedding, held in Pinedale, Wyo., was wonderful; Pinedale is definitely a destination for further exploration. Days passed and it was Sunday, the day of the return.

Once again sitting in the Rock Springs airport I saw a lady with a young child that had a white cane. I really didn’t know if the girl was just messing around with a stick or if it was for real. Well, when Grandma came in with her granddaughter, I realized the five-year-old was vision impaired. She had a little sight, but not enough to be considered sighted.

I immediately fell in love with the little girl. She reminded me so much of my own granddaughter that I wanted to hug and squeeze her. Her mother told me that they were on their way to Jacksonville, Fla. to visit a vision impaired school – of which Rock Springs had none.

The little girl was so excited about her first plane ride that it was awesome, actually tear-wrenching. Mom sat her on the terminal windowsill and told her to watch for the plane. The little girl would repeatedly ask, “Is that it? Is that it?”

Eventually the plane came. We all boarded and the flight attendant was giving the safety talk and told us to buckle our seats. The little girl spoke out very loudly, “We’re ok, we got this!”

So the plane took off and thank God it was relatively calm. Mom videoed the child through the flight and I’m sure will keep for her scrapbook someday. 

But what was cool about it was that any one of us could have been in that condition – and the zest for life and enthusiasm exhibited by the child was a lesson for me and the others that witnessed it.

Later, after the plane landed in Denver and we all went on our way, I headed to the gate with a plane bound for Kansas City. I’d noticed a large thunderstorm sitting to our east when we left the Rock Springs flight – matter of fact, I almost stopped to take a picture.

Well, our flight to Kansas City was delayed 45 minutes due to that storm. Ground crews were pulled off of the ramps due to lightening.

Once things settled down, a fully loaded plane took off and we once again were seriously jostled left to right, up and down and more for several minutes. Once, we lost hundreds of feet in a second causing some to scream, me to grab the arm of a guy next to me, and more.

What was interesting to me was that it didn’t matter if we were women, men, white, black, Christian, etc.; we were all in a situation where it didn’t matter. The arm of the man I grabbed belonged to a software engineer from Africa who now works for Cerner. 

We were all puppets of God’s timing and nothing mattered except trying to gain comfort or solace from those around us. 

Every time I fly, I realize it could be the last time I see my family. Last weekend was no different, and probably closer than other flights. Skin color, sex, etc. made no difference as we were all in the same boat – we could have met God at any moment; those people were brothers and sisters in an odd way.

But, we made it safely to Kansas City, and we all lived to fly again someday.

I think for a while I’ll stick to driving.

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