He was flying along in his home built little blue airplane. It took him years to build it but it never dawned on him that he couldn’t do it. He went to as many airports as he could and looked over the work of others. He even made friends with some Mennonites that shared his interests. All of his free time was absorbed with airplanes. If he wasn’t working on his airplane then he was talking to others about theirs. He set a goal and didn’t give up.
It was a clear blue day when my Mother and I drove to Murfreesboro to attend a church wedding. The ceremony was beautiful. We were sitting in the reception hall patiently waiting for the cutting of the cake while the photographer took just a few more shots of the bride and groom. Someone walked into the room and spoke quietly to my Mother. I don’t even remember who it was. She told me to stay there while she went outside to talk to them. After a while I became suspicious. I wandered out to the sidewalk where my Uncle Jerry and Pastor Barney Treece were standing with Momma as she leaned against a car. I thought it strange that they would come to this wedding. They didn’t even know the bride.
I walked up to them and asked “What’s wrong?” I received blank stares.
“Your Father has been in an airplane crash.”
“Is he OK?”
I desperately looked to the sky. I just knew I’d see him flying over. He had to be up there. There is no logic for this.
I looked at my Uncle.
“I’ll ride with y’all to the funeral home.”
Funeral home? No. That can’t be. He’s only 39 years old.
We were ushered into a little office beyond the sanctuary. The funeral director sent my Uncle to view the body. Someone had to decide if there would be an open casket.
There would be no open casket. I would never see him again.
People were talking. I could hear voices but all was muffled. We were taken to the hospital where little white cups with pills in them were passed into our hands. They would make us feel better.
People poured into our home. Even the Mennonites came. The women weren’t allowed inside our home due to their religion so they reverently waited in their cars with their children.
There were men that Daddy taught me to talk to on his base station. I had never met them but only knew them by their handles.
The family drove down.
We were packed in our house like sardines. Some were sent to Mrs. Ruth’s house to sleep. There are no hotels in Mineral Springs Arkansas.
His casket was laid in the sanctuary of the funeral home. An American flag was draped across it. I stood there at a loss. I could not say goodbye.
Uncle Jerry came and stood beside me. He told me what the colors of the flag stood for. White signifies purity and innocence; red, hardiness and valor; and blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
He said I had to go sit down now. I needed to leave my Father so that the funeral could progress. My feet were planted in stone. They would not move.
We sat in folding chairs at the graveside. I don’t know what was spoken. Devastation does not focus. Guns were fired. A 21 gun salute. A uniformed man in the distance began playing Taps.