- Family and Parenting
My Dad, Airplanes, and Math Homework
I cannot say enough good things about my DAD.
He was and is my Hero in Life.
He taught me all the important things I needed to know to survive. First, He was a man of great intelligence and wisdom. His occupation was centered in his life-long career with the U.S. Air Force, although he was a civilian for most of that career. He was a pilot during World War II. After the War, he worked in the Southern States, as a Crop Duster, and many other odd jobs, as the job market was overwhelmed with veterans returning from the War.
When I was in Elementary School, he was employed in Oklahoma, designing aircraft for Douglas and Top Secret Government projects.
He played a significant role in designing the original U2 Spy Plane. He also helped to design the Mercury Rockets and the Saturn V Rockets which carried men to the Moon, through the Apollo Missions Program, of NASA. When he was stationed at Cape Canaveral, He was a high ranking Inspector with Quality Control for all the Electronics, for all the Apollo Missions.
From the time I started school, my Dad played an important role in my education process. I did well in school, although I had to work hard for the good grades. I liked all subjects. Dad would supplement the curriculum by taking my brother and me out of school, on a regular basis, for educational and recreational trips around North America. My favorite things to do with him were fishing and helping him work on the car.
When I was in Fourth Grade, math was a challenge. We were learning long division and fractions. I liked math, but could not quite wrap my mind around this phase of it. My Dad was an excellent tutor. I knew whenever I had a problem with anything, he was there to creatively help me 'see the light'.
One day, I was having a great deal of trouble solving math problems for a homework assignment. Dad was sitting at the dinning room table, his hands inside of a disassembled television set. This was during the days when televisions had glass tubes inside, which reminded me of something in Dr. Frankenstein"s lab. I casually interrupted Dad with my sheet of eraser worn notebook paper in one hand, a pencil in the other, and a forlorn look on my face.
He cheerfully asked, "Hey, Sue, what do you have, there?"
As he looked me in the eye, my eyes welled with tears. I had been struggling with the problems for such a long time, my frustration was beginning to cause doubt about my purpose for existence. My Dad clearly discerned I was overwhelmed, and too emotional to be rational about a few numbers scribbled in pencil.
He lovingly took my paper, analyzing it, and solving all the problems in his head with one glance.
He said, "Well, I see what the real problem is here."
He cleared a spot from the table, and made certain I would not be near the hot soldering iron. He picked me up and sat me on the table. He then took my homework page and placed it on the floor below me.
He asked, "Now, Sue, where are you?"
I thought for a minute, fearing I may have the wrong answer, and finally replied, "Up here on the table."
Then he asked, "Okay, now, where is the problem you are trying to solve?"
Confused and wondering if this was a trick question,
I answered, "Down there." as I pointed toward the piece of paper lying on the floor beneath me.
He gently picked up the paper and put me in his lap and said, with excitement, "Now, we can solve the problem!"
He went over the math problem step by step, and I followed his directions. By the time we finished going over the first problem, I completely understood what I incorrectly had been doing. Sitting there, in his lap, I worked the second problem, without any help, wiped the tears from my eyes and smiled at him.
As I walked back to my room, to finish my homework assignments, I wondered what all that was really about. I could not come to a conclusion about why he approached my dilemma in this manner, but I never forgot the experience. Somehow, I knew whatever it was he did, it worked in solving my problem, and I wondered about it for many years.
As I grew older, and as I encountered various problems in life, other than a challenging math problem, I always applied the, "I'm up here, and the problem is down there" technique, he used that day. Finally, it dawned on me, like a Divine Revelation. He was teaching me to have the right perspective in life!
Whenever Dad had a problem, whether it was a dysfunctional relationship, a financial crisis, or a death of a friend or family member, he would get in an airplane and fly about for awhile. He said when he flew an airplane, the problems below become extremely small, and sometimes they even disappear from sight. He said he always felt better about things after taking a flight, as it always changed his perspective about what is really important in life.
He was teaching me this principle back then, in our dining room, when I was in the Fourth Grade.
The older I become and the more crisis, challenges and tribulation I encounter in my life, I am always reminded of, and encouraged by my Dad and the wisdom he imparted.
My Dad died in 1991, and I miss him very much. But I find great comfort in knowing he is 'above' me, there in Heaven, and he has the "Perfect" perspective.