Christmas of 2012, my father gifted both my sister and me with a pair of military issued Naval Aviator wings. None of us realized it at the time, but he was going about the business of tying up the loose ends of his life, and he had spent a good deal of time processing the required paperwork to have these sent to him so that he could award them to his daughters. Neither of his sons got a pair – just his girls.
In the world of jet aviation, your wings are handed to you by your flight instructor and they mean that you are ready to "fly solo." The only people who can legally award them are aviators. Daddy was a Marine Corps flight instructor back in the day, but I don't know how he managed to secure these for Becky and me. I DO know that he wanted us to know that he was proud of us and that he trusted us to take care of things after he was gone, that he was able to let go of being the man we relied on because we were able to rely on ourselves.
They are the last gift he gave me.
The last conversation Daddy and I had was about flight path vectors, although I did not realize it at the time. He told me, "I'm not sure just how I'm going to get there." I replied, "Daddy, the Navy will get you there. You just have to show up in your flight suit."
He passed away November of 2013, at 7 minutes to 1 in the morning, one week after the Marine Corps birthday. I was sitting up with him, with my aviator pin on my pajamas, and was blessed to watch him as he flew from this world to the next one.
Anytime I have to do a job that takes courage and bravery, I always wear my wings. My daddy was the bravest man I've ever known, and it helps to know that he is flying close to me when I need him.
This particular day, I had to haul two horses to Oklahoma State University for a friend, who needed them to be euthanized and did not have the strength to do it herself. She asked if I would do it because “you're good at this.”
No, I'm not good at it. I'm just brave.
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My Week 14 Anything Goes Weekly Challenge
This project took me a LOT longer than it should have. I had a lot of trouble getting all the elements to come together. I think I may go back and add a little "glitz" to the birds with maybe some glossy accents or clear enamel or something, but for now, it's just done and I'm glad to have it behind me instead of staring at me from my desk asking "well, are you FINISHED yet?"
I'm going to run it through some other challenges as well, but I never know which ones until I upload and start posting it where it belongs.