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.
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!