This story begins 21 years ago when Dr. Sampson came into my hospital room to say that he has “reconsidered” doing surgery on my smashed into tiny bits heels. I had awaked from 10 days in an induced coma to find that I was “dead” and “paralyzed”. He watched his partners work on my broken back and broken legs that fateful night. Yet, Dr. Sampson would not work on “dead men”. He would wait and see.
So here was his deal: “I don’t know if you will ever walk again, but you will fly!…I want the first ride!”
I soloed again eleven months after the near fatal accident.
Three years later, I delivered on our deal. I was the Competition Director for the 1998 15 Meter Nationals held at Siskiyou County Airport in way Northern California. I treated Bert to a competition day with the ride given just after launching all the competitors.
Christmas cards were exchanged every year thereafter with a standing invitation to visit them at their home in Maine. We made it after 18 years. Then we did it again in May this year. They have a condominium on Pensacola Beach sitting on sand Linda and I visited often during our short tenure in 1967. Then, there was no human presence on those sand dunes. Now, eight of the thirty two miles of beach are occupied. The rest is National Park. Still, there are thousands of people that seem to outnumber the grains of sand.
We had a ball with Bert and Marti again!!!! This shot was taken moments after we arrived. Shrimp and Grits with a lovely salad were the menu eaten quickly and savored forever. When Linda and I attended UNC-Chapel Hill, grits were our morning staple. Coming back to the South was a return to grits heaven. And, that is a fresh peach pie Marti is creating!
Bert and Marti were once again treasured people who squired us around old haunts vaguely familiar…time does not stand still. Yet, our visit was a moment forever frozen in our hearts.