|A tulip that almost looks like a rose|
On Sundays I don't have any scheduled activities, except for writing this post. It's already light outside and I'm starting everything a little later than usual. I just didn't want to get out of bed this morning and now it's already the time when I would normally be publishing my already-written post. Not today. I'm still trying to get my mind around the loss of another acquaintance I made a few years ago.
It was just a year ago that I traveled to southern California to attend a Masters Skills Camp and make the record skydive of 9 women over the age of sixty in a formation together. Last week that record was broken, with 16 women attending this time. It's interesting to notice my feelings around it; I'm glad they made the record, and I'm just as glad I didn't travel there. I made a decision after last year that it would be the last time I would attend, and considering how few skydives I've made since then, it seems it was a good one. I'm really fading from the scene, and although I can still enjoy an occasional skydive, there are no more thrills attached to the activity.
What happens in early April at Skydive Elsinore is a gathering of skydivers all over the age of sixty to try to make an attempt at breaking the record, which now stands at exactly 60 skydivers all hooked up in a formation, all over the age of 60. Since I haven't got any desire to actually be on that enormous skydive, I have attended for a couple of years simply to get current in the air, and spend time with the wonderful friends I've made. Thinking of seeing them again almost made me consider going this year. And then I thought of the expense, the travel, and the desire faded away as quickly as it came. I'm moving on.
I've been watching and reading on Facebook of the progress of the skydive attempts to break the record, and until yesterday, everything was going well. Today, Sunday, is the last day of their attempts, but I saw that one of the people I met and jumped with was killed yesterday. Bud LaPointe was on the JOS record attempts (Jumpers Over Seventy) when I first met him in October 2013. He was the oldest skydiver back then, and he was 87. He died yesterday at the age of 88, in a skydiving accident at Lake Elsinore. The details are still sketchy, but it looks like he was on one of the attempts and ended up pulling his parachute too low, and the automatic opener on the reserve fired, giving him two canopies out. He landed hard and I'm still looking for more details. There are so few people at his age who have the strength and courage to be doing what he was until the very end.
Some people might think that he had no business at his age doing something so risky, but Bud wasn't like that at all. I'm sure he was still making hundreds of skydives every year, being a southern California native and a regular at the two drop zones he lived nearby. He was my hero on the JOS attempts, when I learned how old he was and how he still kept on going. It almost made me want to keep it up myself, but when your heart isn't in it like it once was, it's time to stop. And now Bud is gone, and it breaks my heart to think he died skydiving and will be remembered for that, not for all the many skydives he made. He started jumping as a paratrooper in World War II and kept it up for seventy years. I am glad I got the chance to meet him and spend some time talking with him, a real legend in our sport.
Learning of that incident at Elsinore yesterday evening kept me from falling asleep easily, thinking of my friends in southern California who are out at the event, hoping to set a new record, and now they are processing what happened yesterday, too. I suspect not many of them slept well last night, either. And today they will give it everything they've got to hopefully set that new record, without Bud, on this last day of the record attempts. I've got my fingers crossed for their success but I will be spending my time in the garden, putting my tomatoes into the ground, along with the lettuce and the broccoli.
This is my fourth season as a gardener, and I'm really surprised at how peaceful and satisfying it is to spend time pulling weeds and getting my hands in the dirt. The rich soil has been giving me plenty of wonderful vegetables for the past three years, and I have learned a lot about what it means to be a gardener from my neighbors, who have been doing this much longer than me. Of the original ten gardeners who started four years ago, only two of us are left, with everybody else moving on, their plots taken over by new tenants. That's the only real problem with renting: your neighbors often don't stay for long. There is one woman in this 26-unit property who has been here almost forty years, but she will be moving into an assisted living facility soon. Things change, and that's one of the lessons I've learned in the last few years, to let things evolve without trying to hold on too tightly. After all, it's the way of things to change, even if I'm not always happy about it.
The cycle of the seasons here in the Pacific Northwest has given my life a certain rhythm that I find soothing and fulfilling. In the summer months I travel into the High Country with the Senior Trailblazers and enjoy both the adventures and the company. The weeks year round are defined by my excursions to the YMCA to attend classes and use the exercise machines. I see the same people there day after day, year after year, and I realize I've grown very accustomed to their routines as well as my own. The woman who teaches the M-W-F classes pulls into the same parking space at the same time every day while I'm on the treadmill, and now I look for her and watch her as she gets out of her car and puts exactly six coins in the meter. It makes me smile as I gaze out the window from the fourth floor.
Life goes on, moving as it does both quickly and imperceptibly at the same time. I look up from a book that has captured my attention and realize that hours have passed and I've been unaware of it. I notice the arc of the sun as it moves across the sky from season to season, wanting sometimes to slow its journey so that I can savor the moment, but it just keeps on going. I think this is one reason I've grown to love photography so much: the moment is captured and I can keep the memory alive. I took this picture of Bud last year, and it will help me to keep his memory alive. Blue skies, Bud! I'll plant my tomatoes today thinking of you.
|Bud LaPointe 1927-2015|