Category Archives: Family

Goodbye Henry O…

1618211_10202631775931641_1018402183_oThat’s Henry O in the back row. Second from the right. With the perfectly groomed hair.
That’s the Henry O we are all holding in our prayers tonight while he is still with us. 
As I look through photo after photo of the good old days with Henry at EAA, I’m struck with the thought that he was always in the back row. He was the “PR Guy”.
He did a lot of his work in the background, making Paul and EAA look their best.
And as I scan across photos of my ride in Frecce Tricolori, or Neil Armstrong, or Cliff Robertson, or getting to ride in a Huey chopper in the air show…it was Henry in the background. He wasn’t in the photos of us standing in front of the plane we just got to ride in, or the celebrity we just were photographed with. But it wouldn’t have happened for me in the foreground if Henry wasn’t in the background.
The “kids” in these cell phone days would never understand why, when we wanted to have a private conversation during Oshkosh, we turned our radios off. And then took the antenna off.
And then took the battery out. It was just one of our inside jokes. Just like sitting at Daniel’s after a long day at the convention and calling each other so Paul would overhear us and think we were still working at 11pm. Or the joke we would play on people acting like we were French and Henry was a famous French aerobatic pilot
Ah, the good old days.
Henry always did things with class. And style. There was a tradition to follow.
And at the loss of one of our comrades, we would adjourn to the local bar to commiserate.
Henry would order a drink and place it on the bar in front of us. And we would tell wonderful, and funny and touching stories until the ice had melted in the drink.
When I saw Henry at this year’s convention I asked him again about that tradition. So when Paul died, we took that tradition to Herbie’s Acee Deucee to celebrate and share all our good stories about “the boss”.
And so with sadness, yet tradition…we will gather one day soon at the Acee Deucee to tell stories about our beloved Henry, as the ice slowly melts in his drink.

Angel

You never know when a photo of someone that’s in your heart will be the last. These were the last of mom from Monday. Despite being tired, she could still give me “the look” when she knew I was taking her picture and she didn’t want it taken. Or give me that devilish smile when she was about to say something with childish honesty. Mom passed peacefully in her sleep. In my heart she is trying out her wings without any pains or troubles now…zipping around, filled with wonder…and knowing she doesn’t have to worry about not being able to look over the steering wheel. 🙂

 

(Originally posted September 5, 2012)

Milestones

My photos of mom always seem to capture comments about her spirit, her smile and her happiness.

But life is not always like that. As with anyone, mom has her ups and downs. And while I usually don’t photograph her downs, I did shoot this last week and thought it was worth sharing.

It was a quick snap from the iPad one afternoon in Planet Perk. Between forced smiles and laughs, mom had things on her mind. We had sold her car. She agreed to it. It had been in storage since November, and I took her everywhere she wanted to go. But……it was sold. Gone. And so was the freedom the car had represented to her. Even if she hadn’t driven in months. Even if it was a physical challenge for her to walk from her apartment to her car. Even if she knew she didn’t want to drive in Oshkosh with it’s new round -a-bouts…it still represented freedom to her. And now it was gone.I know I lament each small step in getting older. Sometimes it’s realizing I can actually forget something; sometimes it’s realizing my reactions are getting slower. Each of us have our own personal ways of getting smacked in the face by the reality of what getting older takes away from us. But the biggest whack might just be the loss of freedom when you can’t drive anymore. We can’t go to the store when we want groceries. We can’t just take a drive. We are dependant on someone.So this photo is now a reminder to me that at a significant moment like this in someone’s journey, the best thing to say is not say anything at all. Don’t give a list of all the practical reasons why this makes sense. Just be there. And maybe just take that person for a ride for no reason at all…just so they can feel the wind in their face…and a hint of freedom.  (Originally posted June 24, 2012)