One Day I’ll Get My Wings

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to fly.

Not so much in a machine, mind you, but to fly. On my own accord.

When I was a kid, my sister and I would drape rain slickers — fastened at the neck by one button, our arms hanging free — across our backs, then race down our swing set slide, flapping like mad. The plan was, once we neared the bottom of the slide, to give a mighty leap and take off into the air!

Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

But I never quit hoping.

My parents, I’m sure, figured I’d outgrow this “nonsense.” Unlike me, they never wanted to be in the air, even in a plane.

When I became an adult, I casually entered a contest in which the prize was a flight around town in a hot air balloon.

My parents thought I’d gone mad.

“What if it crashes?” they fretted. “What if it tangles up in power lines?”

I come from a long line of worriers, you see. Anything and everything has the potential for being life-threatening. Dangerous. Scary. Better off avoided.

But I wasn’t concerned.

I never win contests.

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Imagine my surprise when the phone rang to inform me I’d won!

My Favorite Domer was just a little kid, and part of me wondered what would happen to him if the unthinkable occurred and my balloon did crash. The other part of me, however, looked into his little eyes and knew I had to model brave behavior — for him.

He had to see that Mommy didn’t let fear hold her back. That sometimes, you’ve just got to suck it up, turn a deaf ear to the naysayers, and live your dream.

My heart was tripping the day of the balloon ride. But the sky was cloudless and blue, the temperature was warm, and there was a perfect light breeze.

I watched the couple who were my pilots ready their (our) balloon for flight. Before I knew it, we were off!

What freedom! What glory!

Floating over the corn and soybean fields of central Illinois, high over the country roads, cars, and buildings.

It was truly as the balloonists’ say, “Mother Nature has taken you into the skies and returned you gently to Earth.”

Too soon, it was over. Besides my memory, I’m left with an empty bottle of champagne, autographed by my pilots and used in their “christening” ceremony for my virgin flight.

Would I go again? In a heartbeat!

As I’ve gotten older and people in my parents’ generation are dying around me, I’m reminded of something the nuns used to tell us in Catechism class:

One day, we, too, will die.

As a child, that didn’t worry me too much.

After all, I reasoned, when I die, I’ll probably get wings.

And wings will help me soar.

On my own!

Won’t THAT be cool?!

24 thoughts on “One Day I’ll Get My Wings

    • I didn’t get to choose the toasting drink — apparently, it’s been pure champagne forever (some balloonists’ ritual, I think). I’m just lucky they didn’t smear dirt in my hair, too!

  1. You’re a brave one! The “idea” of a hot air balloon intrigued me as a child, but more so because of it’s beauty. My son gave my hubby and I a certificate for a helicopter ride over our city…we have yet to cash it in…..flying is not my favorite thing! Now if I had my own wings attached that might be a different story!

    • Aw, Suzi, c’mon, be brave! A helicopter ride sounds like fun — if you can get over the lack of doors on the thing! That, I’ve never done either, but if somebody gave me a free ride offer, yep, I’d take ’em up on it!

  2. I did this when I was younger and less fearful of heights. What struck me the most was the quiet! It was so, so quiet, but then the pilot would fire the jets and WOW! What a great memory. I’m glad you experienced it.

    • We MUST have been separated at birth, Lynne! I’d almost forgotten how utterly peaceful and quiet it was. Guess I was too preoccupied with looking around, making sure the ground crew was going to catch us, ha!

  3. So cool Debbie…I think this is a part of your personality you have to give more flight time too! You are meant to swoop and soar!!
    Cole went with my Dad and they had a great time–I watched as they crashed landed into trees..that was not so great but everyone lived and got off laughing even my dad who said, “I’m a little old for this” 🙂 I could not go…I am not afraid of a heights, or falling but I have an unreasonable fear of Cole falling off something–interesting that the moment he turns 18 he wants to jump from planes. I said sure…but I’m not signing the release.
    Go ahead and worry…it works! Have you ever noticed most of the things we worry about almost never happen??? 🙂

    • Domer hasn’t inherited my delight with flight — no jumping from planes for him! He does good to fly with the Band when they go to football and basketball games, ha! Glad Cole and your dad got to experience a balloon ride — sorry you had to miss out. Swooping and soaring is about my most favorite thing in the world to do!!

  4. Thanks for taking me on a hot air balloon ride and experiencing your exhilaration through your story. The fear and worry part are familiar. Good for you for moving past it all to make a this lasting memory! Keep soaring high ,my friend!

  5. I’ve been in a hot air balloon, too! But actually, I was a little disappointed because I felt it traveled rather slowly. I wanted speed, to feel the wind blowing in my face. Alas, it was a very calm flight, but fun to see the landscape from so high above. 🙂

    • Unlike you, I didn’t feel our trip was too slow — in fact, perhaps because of the lack of a windshield, it felt pretty swift to me! But you’re right in that it was delightful viewing things from a different perspective. I’m glad you, too, got to experience this thrill, Monica!

  6. I’m glad you enjoyed your flight. I like that you were determined to show your son that fear shouldn’t hold you back. Such a great lesson 🙂

    I think hot air balloons are beautiful. I’d love to go to Albuquerque during the big balloon fiesta they have in October – but I’d watch from the ground! (I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but it was a big deal when I lived in New Mexico. It’s really neat!)

    • I lived several years in Texas, Janna, so yes, I’ve heard all about the huge balloon fest in Albuquerque. I’ve wanted to go for ages! The TV cameramen always captured the most brilliant photos of the colors as the balloons took flight. One of these days….

    • Hi Debbie and thanks for visiting! Yes, if you haven’t flown in a hot air balloon, I’d encourage you to do it. I’m afraid words can’t totally convey how exciting it was!

  7. Your blog touched my heart today. I feel like I’m flying already with the Lord…but when you have an illness… the thought of that special flight to glory and beyond makes me feel light.

    In this life…I’m not fond of flying but I’m looking forward to it when I slip out of this body!

  8. Pingback: Our Hiking Surprise….And A Favor To Ask « JannaTWrites's Blog

  9. Debbie, I’ve always said that if reincarnation exists, then I definitely want to come back as a bird. The notion of flying overhead, soaring, dipping and lifting off is just so appealing! How utterly wonderful that you won the balloon ride and were able to have the experience! Now that’s what I call a memory, friend! And for the record, I come from a family of worriers too. If I had paid attention to all the warnings my mother gave me, I wouldn’t have learned to do anything! Kudos to you for being your own woman! 🙂

  10. OK, so I’m 8 years late with this comment. But I’ve always wanted to fly too…like a bird, or a fly. I’ve had two very vivid dreams where I’ve been a bird flying. And I have to say it’s very very cool. I wasn’t soaring like a hawk, I was working my wings hard and flying through tree branches. Another dream I was a fly in an attic room where all the old fashioned furniture was dusty, but light was coming in through a dirty attic window. ANYWAY…a hot air balloon trip would be very fun. Maybe I’ll do that someday. Thanks for the post, just got here randomly…so glad I did!

    • I’m delighted to find another person who wants to fly like I do … without a plane! I guess I’m attracted to the idea of soaring above the earth, seeing big things as little, the freedom of wings! YES, do take a hot air balloon trip if you can — it’s unimaginably wonderful!

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