Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: DREAM (01/02/20)
- TITLE: Sky's The Limit
By Jack Taylor
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My grandmother, Jessie Lynn Maddox, swallowed every moment of air time given to the pioneer aviatrix. Earhart believed, taught and modeled the idea that women could do anything and Jessie believed her. I still have a picture of my young grandmother sitting in a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier, aviator goggles in place and pointing toward the sky.
â€œSkyâ€™s the Limit!â€ she told me every Christmas when our family would take the journey cross country to see her. Sheâ€™d pull out her scrap book and show me the evidence of how she proved that.
â€œWhy do you believe that?â€ I asked as a precocious eleven-year-old.
â€œOlâ€™ JGM Junior wrote about it and I experienced it,â€ she replied, rapping her knuckles on the scrap book.
â€œWhoâ€™s olâ€™ JGM Junior?â€ I asked.
â€œWhat?â€ she said, flipping through the pages. â€œYou donâ€™t know John Gillespie Magee?â€
â€œIs he a former crush of yours from school?â€
â€œNow, youâ€™ve got me dreaming,â€ she said with a smile. â€œListen to this.â€ She closed her eyes, tilted back her head and raised her hand to shoulder height. â€œâ€˜Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward Iâ€™ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of.â€™â€
She hesitated, lost in the visions the words created in her mind.
â€œIs that it?â€ I asked.
â€œNo, thereâ€™s more,â€ she said. â€œI like the ending when it says â€˜Iâ€™ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace where never lark or even eagle flew. And, while with silent lifting mind Iâ€™ve trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God.â€
We both sat silent, stared out the big bay window of her living room and watched the dissipating entrails of a jet splitting the clear blue heavens.
â€œDid you ever reach out and touch the face of God when you were flying those jets?â€ I asked.
She closed the scrap book album and rapped the cover gently. â€œI dreamed of it,â€ she said. â€œThere were days when I felt like he was carrying me across the skies. Like, there was no one alive except he and I. My prayers didnâ€™t even need words to communicate.â€
She stretched for her walker and I held it firm while she strained to stand on wobbly legs.
â€œHave you ever felt that on earth?â€ I asked.
â€œOnce!â€ she said, winking as she slowly moved her walker toward the kitchen. â€œThe day your grand-daddy and I parachuted out of a plane together.â€ She stopped for a rest, breathing heavily. â€œI knew that when we landed, he would pop the question and make all my dreams come true.â€
â€œWerenâ€™t you afraid?â€ I asked.
Again, the smile. â€œI met your grand-daddy in the Sunday School choir and he could sing like an angel. One Christmas we got to be Mary and Joseph together and to sing a duet. He took my hand while we sang and from that moment on, I knew I would never be afraid again as long as he was with me.â€
â€œHow come Iâ€™ve never met grand-daddy?â€
A deep sigh emerged as she pointed toward a picture of a young man standing by a Spit-fire. â€œThe war came. I couldnâ€™t fly because I was carrying your mother. He had no reason not to go.â€
â€œWhat happened?â€ I asked in innocence.
â€œSomewhere over the Pacific he disappeared.â€ She shuffled forward a few more steps. â€œI think he either found Ameliaâ€™s plane and stopped to help her or he reached up and touched the face of God and never wanted to come away from that.â€
â€œYou mean he died, donâ€™t you grandma?â€
Pivoting in place, she plunked down on her walker. Fixating me with her steely grey eyes she declared with full conviction. â€œNo, child! Your grand-daddy is more alive than ever. One day weâ€™re going to skip across the clouds again and this whole life will seem like a dream thatâ€™s come and gone.â€
â€œYou really believe that, donâ€™t you grandma? How can you be so sure?â€
She pointed at her worn old Bible. â€œI read it in the book. Now, itâ€™s your turn.â€
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