Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slow Sunday

Not much going on this morning. Fiddling with the weather blog--adding gadgets and getting ready to follow the Monster Storm that's washing ashore this week down south. It's gonna be a "douzie," to paraphrase Ned Ryerson in Ground Hog Day.

I will be thinking all this coming week about my Friend, Frank Protiva. He was killed last January 23rd. A year ago during the last few days of his life, he and I exchanged all sorts of emails about how to stay alive in his airplane. The so-called Miracle on The Hudson was the spark for this electronic conversation. We talked and talked via email about what he would have to do to react in a similar situation to stay alive. Who could know he would have his chance to implement the lessons of our discussion on the morning of January 23rd. Unfortunately, he failed his test and died when his plane went into the pine trees south of Flagstaff. It haunts me to remember all of our words a year ago this week. I am haunted because I know he could have survived. Indeed, he should have survived. But he didn't and death is final. No reruns allowed.

Last year I thought about making some sort of online memorial to him but I never did. It was too hard for me to accept his death. I think I am finally coming to terms with it and somehow the first anniversary of his passing will bring a degree of closure to that sad day.

I now doubt that I will ever make an online memorial to Frank. I've been unable even to contact his widow. I have hundreds of emails from Frank, including those poignant observations sent back and forth a year ago today and each day until the night of the 22nd. I now think that I will put them all into a blog format and then print the blog via "Blog2Print." Then I will send the document to his widow with letter explaining how and why it was that I never sent my condolences last year. Each of us faces and copes with death in a different way. No two people react the same.

I think so very often of the lessons in Frank's death. I hope that I have taken those lessons to heart. Even though I am not a pilot and won't be making decisions about whether to fly into a winter ice storm on a cold January morning at an airport 7,000 feet above sea level, I can still apply Safety Consciousness to my daily life. I can still ask myself if my decisions make sense. Are they reasonable and prudent? Do they risk the safety of others? Is there a practical alternative to my proposed action(s)? Do I REALLY need to do this or can it wait? Am I in an unreasonable hurry? The "why" of what I am doing becomes an important part of the safety equation. Why am I doing this? Can it wait?

Sometimes just asking these questions can lead us to make decisions that keep us safe, alive and ready to face another day.

Late this week, a co-worker was describing his plans to drive to Boise late Friday night. All of those lessons from Frank's death crowded into my mind. I never told Jeff that my words were echoes of a year ago. But I did my absolute best to talk him out of driving over to Boise with his plan of arriving at midnight.
I really laid it on thick and drew diagrams on the white board and showed him conclusively how it made absolutely no sense to drive over there at night when he could drive in safety the following morning, arriving fresh and rested and ready to help his son.

After Frank's passing last year, I put a little more "power of persuasion" into my words in situations such as that one. It isn't just our life that we're risking, it's the impact of the lives of so many other people, our family, our loved ones, our friends and people we don't even know.

Promise me, Dear Reader, be safe always! Slow down, be careful, pay attention, and THINK! OK? Thank You.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Words you spoke many years back I remember often are that when it seems it has become an effort to do something, maybe you're not meant to do it right then. There is some greater reason for you to step back and wait. Don't fight those forces.

Hard to believe it's been a year. I sympathize with your feelings.