Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Full of Hot Air

No, I'm not talking about that person every single one of us knows. The one who talks nonstop about all she can do, all she has done, or all she is going to do. No, that's a blog for another day.

Nope, this blog is about a dream. A dream full of hot air. A dream 70 years in the making. A dream I was fortunate to be a part of. A dream that still brings a tear to my eye. A dream that I will hold dear for the rest of my years. This blog is about my mother's childhood dream and the day she accomplished it.

Meet my mom, Mary Ann.

In order to understand the dream, I have to take you back many years to when my mother (who's 71st birthday was yesterday!) was a small child living in Indiana. Every year, her parents would pack up all four children and head to Fort Recovery, Ohio, to attend the Jubilee, a summertime fair. While the other children enjoyed the games and food, my mother was mesmerized by the hot air balloons. These tall, colorful, seemingly magical balloons fascinated her. While mom never had the opportunity to ride in one of the hot air balloons at the Jubilee, she promised herself she would ride in a hot air balloon one day.

June 17, 2009 turned out to be the day. While attending a family reunion, my mother was able to realize her childhood dream in a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. Out of the 40 plus people attending the reunion, I was the only one willing to go with my mom on her adventure. I must say, I am so glad that I was able to experience it with her.

The morning began very, VERY early -- we were up, dressed, and leaving the hotel by 4 a.m. 4 a.m.!!! But in reality, we didn't mind the early hour (well, not too much) because anticipation fueled us. As we pulled into the field that served as our launch site, the excitement among the riders was palatable. The site of the balloon being filled brought a smile to all of our faces. There were ten of us in the basket -- my mom and I, a married couple from Tennessee, a family of five from Michigan, and our pilot, Don. When the balloon was full and we began to climb (yes, you have to climb) into the basket, the giddy smile on my mother's face was contagious. As we slowly began our ascent, we were surprised at how smooth the ride was. We both had assumed the ride would be somewhat bumpy, at least until we got to the appropriate altitude. But it didn't even feel like we were moving. We quickly rose to almost 3,500 feet and floated above the beautiful Sedona area for almost 2 hours.

There was one particular moment when I looked over at my mother and could see the sense of accomplishment in her eyes. The serenity of our scenery was reflected in the joy on her face. At that particular moment, she pointed off into the distance. Just over some of the red rocks, the rays of sun were shining through a spattering of clouds. My mother smiled at me with a tear in her eye and said, "That's Mom and Dad looking down on us. I did it, Mom and Dad!" We shared a hug and some tears. It was a beautiful moment I will never forget.

But the ride was not all sappy and filled with tears. On no! Our pilot Don wanted us to enjoy every single minute. So midway through the ride he handed out several of those little green army men, all of which had little plastic parachutes attached to them. The giggles and laughs could be heard all around as we dropped our little green army men and watch them slowly descend to the ground. Unfortunately, A few of them met with a quick demise when the parachutes didn't cooperate and a death spiral occurred. The white spots in this picture are the parachutes.

As our time in the air was over and our basket descended, our pilot told us to prepare for a bumpy landing. And it was. We got tousled around a bit, but nothing too bad. I have to say that getting into the basket was easier than getting out. And there is no lady-like way to do either!

After everyone had their feet back on solid ground, we enjoyed a continental breakfast full of muffins, fruit, and chocolate. But before the food was served, our pilot Don poured all of the adults champagne and toasted us with an old Irish toast.

The winds have welcomed you with softness.
The sun has blessed you with his warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well
That God has joined you in your laughter
And has set you gently back again
Into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

A beautiful way to end a lifelong dream!

Thanks Mom for letting me be a witness to your dream! I can't wait until we go up for another ride!

So, my question for you is this . . . what is the dream you have wanted for so long but have yet to accomplish? Just know that your day will come too!

~ Buffie


  1. Buffie
    What a beautiful post and I love the pictures you and your Mum are a lot gamer than I am I don't think I could go up in a hot ait balloon. Way To Go Girls.

    My dream has always been to have a wonderful family and that I have my only dream now is to be able to retire so as I can spend more time with my beautiful grandchildren and I am so looking forward to meeting our newest one that is due in about 2 weeks yay.

    Have Fun

  2. Thanks, Helen. We had a lot of fun and would do it again in a heartbeat.

    Wow! Another grandbaby?! You are really adding to the family!! I am so glad you have a wonderful family. And yes, retirement sounds like a great dream to me!

  3. Wow Buffie - You put such a huge smile on my face and in my heart. What a great adventure - and how lucky you were to share it with your mom. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    I have many dreams yet to fulfill... what I can say is that each time I realize one of my dreams I feel as if I've ridden high over the mountains in a balloon.

  4. Hey Marisa! Yes, I was quite blessed to share that ride with mom. We still giggle about it :-)

  5. Buffie, I am smiling as the tears roll down my cheeks. What a beautiful post! I'm so happy that you got to share such a special experience with your mom. And better yet, in Sedona--such a beautiful, magical place!

    I feel blessed to have realized a few dreams--living overseas twice and traveling all over tops the list. My kids have had so many experiences--they didn't feel that way at the time ("Another museum? Another church?"). Now when they see something on TV or study art, geography or history in school, they think it's rather cool that they've "been there."

    I would really love to go to Africa on a safari one day. Several friends of mine have gone, and they say it's the trip of a lifetime. Another place on my bucket list is Ireland. My great-great grandfather came from there, and I'd love to see it someday. And yes, I would love to go "up, up and away in a beautiful balloon." :-)

  6. Buffie, you started my day off with a smile and tears. What a beautiful post and a lovely memory for both you and your mom. Congratulations, Mary Ann, on realizing your dream!

    My dream right now is to sell my house and, believe me, there will be much celebrating when it occurs!

  7. Awww, thanks Gannon! It was a memory of a lifetime. Sedona is a beautiful place . . . it helps to have a brother who lives there :-)

    Africa always looks beautiful to me. My only concern would be the critters!!! I don't like bugs and I hate snakes!! I'm sure you will make there one day.

  8. PJ, I'm glad the blog was a good way to start the day :-)

    I'm sure there will be lots of celebrating when your house sells. It will happen!!

  9. What a wonderful story, Buffie. Thank you for sharing it with us!
    My dream is for the people that I care most about … my children … my husband … to have happy, fulfilling lives. Sans The Drama. Of course I wouldn’t mind being a Product Tester for Winston. And I don’t mean the cigarettes or Winston!

  10. What a wonderful post! It sounded like you both had a wonderful time. ^^ A dream for me that i have yet to accomplish is to visit England. I so much want to spend a month or so just exploring the english countryside and cities. This is the country i want to visit even more than any place in my own. lol It's the setting of all of my favorite books and holds so much history. ^^


  11. Great Post, Buffie!!Aren't hot air balloon rides Awesomely AWESOME!! I'm glad your mom got realize that dream.

  12. What a lovely post, Buffie! It definitely left me with smiley tears. Yay for your mom and her dream come true--and how wonderful that you shared the moment with her.

    My greatest dream right now is to walk into a bookstore and see a book with my name on the cover. One day . . .

  13. What a lovely experience to be able to share with your mom, Buffie!

    I'm with her, I'd love to go up in a hot air balloon. Australia is one of my other goals. Someday I'm going to go and explore!

  14. All I can say is that is my wonderful daughter that I love so very much and I am glad we got to share that special time together. It was a dream to come true and in my 71st year, I will remember that as long as the man above lets me see the sky and cloud. Thank you, Buffie...

  15. Melissa -- it was a wonderful experience!! England is a dream of mine too! I hope you make there one day.

  16. Julie, I share that dream too -- that my family and friends are healthy and happy. If your dream about Winston does come true, be sure to take some fabulous pictures :-)

  17. Monica, yes they are AWESOME. I assume you have been in one before. As soon as we landing, Mom and I were ready to go up again.

  18. Hey Janga! I think your dream will be coming true soon. Hold fast to that dream, work hard, and enjoy the day when it happens!

  19. You really need to get in a balloon, Deb. Hey, why not take a balloon ride IN Australia? Now that sounds like something I would love to do too!

  20. Awwww, Mom! I love you so much too. And I was honored to share this experience with you :-)

    So, when's our next flight?

  21. Buffie, what a cool story. I bet flying over all that red rock scenery was gorgeous. I got to ride in a hot air balloon once when I had my first newspaper job. Was neat.

    One of my big dreams is to visit Alaska. Another is to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

  22. How lovely, Buffie! Thank you for sharing this special post.

    Happy Birthday, Mary Ann!

    I think at this moment in time, my big dream is really little dreams coming together: family, health, love, and life.

    My big dream is to return to Denmark and visit the homeland of my grandfather. I'd also like to visit England. Then, maybe, Australia and New Zealand!

  23. Buffy,
    What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience and memory with us!

    I have to say I've been pretty lucky. I've had the opportunity to travel, and I've been able to go to school and get a good education. But there are some things I still want to accomplish. I'd like to find a rewarding career that makes me happy (lately I've been thinking more and more about becoming a writer), go on a helicopter ride, and find someone to share my life with. But right now, the top of my list would have to be going to Italy. I've wanted to go for so long, and I still haven't forgiven my sister for making it to Italy before me!!!

    Though after this post, Buffie, I have to say a hot air balloon ride may have to be on the list too!

  24. Buffie, how fabulous! There's a balloon rally in the next county every year, and I went to it once. Watching all those balloons go up was beautiful.

    I'm afraid of heights, though, so I don't anticipate being in one ever.

    One of my favorite Heyers, Frederica, features a "balloon ascension" toward the end.

    Dreams to be attained--sell a book!

  25. Buffie, what an 'uplifting' story, truly, that was wonderful! And happy birthday to your mom, my mother is going to be 71 this year as well, and she is still so full of vim and energy, it gives me hope for when I get older!

    My dream is to visit the UK. Luckily, my hubby shares this dream and he says it WILL happen in the next few years. Stay tuned!

  26. Buffie, thanks for sharing your beautiful story. And the photos are terrific! There's nothing like sharing a dream with someone special, especially a mother.

    I think I have a new dream every week - many of my dreams come true and many I'm still working on. It's the work toward the dream that I actually find fulfilling

  27. Buffie, what an absolutely gorgeous post. Congratulations to Mary Ann on making a long-held dream come true! And what a lovely dream!

    A long-held dream of mine is going to come true in July. I've always wanted to see the Rockies and I'm going to RomCon in Denver. Yay! Can't wait!

  28. Hi Trish! Yes, the scenery in Sedona is just breathtaking, and flying high about the roads it was even prettier! How cool that you have been in a hot air balloon too!! Alaska is a place the dh and I would love to visit. I'll leave the hiking to you ;-)

  29. Deb -- life, love, and heath are wonderful dreams!! LOL @ the countries you want to visit. I am the same way -- don't get me started on naming them all because I could just go on and on.

  30. Hi L! It is wonderful that you have accomplish so much already. But yes, Italy would be fabulous! One day I would like to make it there too!

  31. Oh Nancy, you really should take a chance and go for a ride!!! It doesn't feel anything like you think it would feel.

    And I know that dream of selling a book will be realized soon, very soon!

  32. Drew, glad you enjoyed the "uplifting" story! LOL! My mom is the same way -- she has more spunk than alot of people half her age!

    I'm sure you and the dh will make it to the UK and enjoy every single minute of it :-)

  33. Thanks Maria! It was very special to share this one with Mom.

    And there is something to be said about the journey to the fulfillment of a dream.

  34. Thanks so much, Anna! We had a lovely time.

    I was laughing just a bit as I read about your dream soon to be fulfilled in July. Not that the Rockies are not beautiful, but I was thinking it would be to meet me ;-) LOL!

  35. Ok....makes me a little sad that I didn't go....but I'm so glad that the two of you got to share the experience. Buffie, you told the story so well -- xxoo


  36. Buffie, I thought that goes without saying... x

  37. Happy Birthday to your mom, Buffie. Our current dream is to buy a house.

  38. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story, Buffie!! :)

    A dream of mine is to visit London. A lot of historical romances are set here and to be able to actually see London for myself would just be wonderful! One day...

  39. Sharon!!! {{hugs}} It is so good to have my big sis here!!

  40. Buffie, I thought that goes without saying... x

    LOL!! I can't wait to meet you Anna! We are going to have a great time together!

  41. Hey Jane! Thanks for the birthday wishes for Mom! She had a great day yesterday.

    Buying a home is a fantastic dream!

  42. Hey Trisha!

    How about a girls trip to London? You, Andrea, me, PJ, Gannon, and anyone else who wants to go? Sounds great to me!

  43. OK, sniffle alert!

    How wonderful for your Mom!!!!!! And what a great daughter to go with her!!!

    My Mom's dream was not so daring but just as adventurous...she wanted her high school diploma. So in her 50's she went back for her GED.

    I used to drive my little student to the local high school for classes. She was so cute! And studious. Alas, a bout with a bad back cut it short and she never accomplished that goal. But she was the smartest lady I knew!

    As to my own dream, it is to become published before I hit Social Security :-)

    Great post Buffie!

  44. Thanks, Joanie! Sounds like your mom is as spunky as mine :-) She went back in her 40s to get her GED.

    And hold fast to that publishing dream! For I *know* it will happen soon, girl. Real soon!

  45. I knew I should have posted when I had the chance this morning! Life always seems to interrupt. Sigh.

    Buffie, what an absolutely beautiful post. Truly. It's stories like yours that make us realize how important life and the people who share it is. I'm so glad that your mom got to experience her dream with you by her side. It's something that I know neither of you will ever forget and the story will be passed down through your family.

    Happy Birthday, Mary Ann!! Here's to many, many more birthdays and many more dreams come true!

    As for me, I'm totally up for a girls trip to London! In fact, let's just invade the whole UK!

  46. Have been up in a tethered hot air balloon, but not gone for a ride. We helped with the morning launches at balloon festivals in Colorado Springs. It really is a wonderful experience.
    My dream is to take at least a one month tour of Ireland and Scotland. Just meander from town to town seeing and experiencing what we can.

  47. Thanks, Andrea! Shoot, I'm up for the whole UK!!! I think it would be a blast. Not sure the hubby would agree though ;-)

  48. LibraryPat -- I think that is so neat that you have helped with some launches!

    A month in Scotland and Ireland is definitely a dream for me too. Maybe you should come along on our girls trip - :-)

  49. Just can't believe all the birthday wishes that I received from everyone. What a thrill to read Buffie's ( my daughter's) story....