That Call

No one wants to be going about his life and get “that call.” You know, the call from a family member or friend telling you about…

…an unexpected death.

Such was what happened to me on Saturday morning while I was escorting some of my lovely LOLITS grocery shopping. I felt the vibration of my cell phone in my pocket. I seldom have it with me, but for some uncanny reason, I did.

I thought it was a spoof-spam caller. About 99% of calls to my unpublished cell phone number are false, so I rarely even look.

However, again, something was telling me that I should both look at and answer that call.

The call was from one of my old skydiving teammates, telling me that another one of our team of six (I’ll call him “D”) died suddenly in a car crash this past Tuesday. I had just spoken with my old teammate “D” two weeks ago when he was in town visiting his mother. His Mom lives next door to one of my LOLITS with whom I was shopping. Small worlds.

We were talking about getting the old gang together and having a “reunion jump” for old-times sake some time this summer. “D” lives next to the field where we used to practice so much on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We’d jump a few times, then kick our boots up, have some beers (or for me, a soft drink), and regale old skydiving stories (where the altitude gets higher, the crosswinds get stronger, and the challenges are extreme). LOL.

Anyway… my buddy on the phone said that the funeral was going to be in four hours. Then he was mumbling, “weather is really nice; um, ah, do you want to get together with (R) and (M) and give a tribute to (D)?”

What he meant was, did we want to get our gear and skydive at the funeral? Hmmm… the church was next to an open field right near “D’s” house.

Long story short, I rather quickly finished the grocery shopping with my senior pals, drove home, informed the Spouse what was going on, changed into my jump boots and gear, and grabbed my pack (parachute). I drove to a nearby airport where “R” picked me up. We flew on to another airport where the other two of our team joined us. Thirty minutes later, we were over the DZ (drop zone) just at the time the hearse had arrived and the pall bearers pulled out “D’s” casket.

We had phoned ahead and “D’s” wife was honored and looking for us.

As we jumped (at a mere 7,500 feet, kinda low for us), it was cold, but we were ready. As soon as we were clear of the plane, we deployed our ‘chutes. Half a minute later, we landed safely and (sorta) in formation (facing inward, toward “D’s” casket.) We escorted “D’s” casket into the church.

It was a nice service. Our buddy “M” spoke briefly and we all smiled in thinking of how our friend “D” was the most practical and organized among us. And he always had a smile for anyone. Always cheerful and full of confidence.

As we flew back, we kept sharing stories about “D” while “R” put a tune on the plane’s comms — An old Alan Parson’s tune, “Brother Up In Heaven.” This song was a perfect statement for how we all were feeling.

So “D”, our Brother Up In Heaven, wait up for me.

Life is short: keep close with your buddies… you never know.

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