Sunday, September 30, 2018

Vive la France - Part Two

“In my yellow-trimmed bassinet, tucked into the corner of the dining room, I was oblivious to the swirl of history-making world events reported each day on the radio.  D-Day was still four months away. Many men in our small town were soldiers in the Pacific, and an uncle was missing in action somewhere in Europe. Since Dad worked for an industry vital to the war effort, he stayed on the home front.  I never would have been born if my father had been called into military service. My sisters remember ration coupons, victory gardens, and life-altering telegrams from the War Department, as well as dancing in the streets on VE and VJ Day. As for me, I cried, nursed, and slept through it all.”  (Excerpt from my memoir Born Three Times)                                    

June 6, 1944 has been commemorated for over 74 years as the day of the invasion of France and the beginning of the liberation of Europe from Hitler and his murderous regime. Commonly called D-Day, the Allied invasion force stormed fifty miles of the Normandy coast on five different beaches.  The logistics and tremendous sacrifice involved in such a massive operation became apparent to us during our recent visit to the historical site.  Emotions were close to the surface as we looked out over Omaha Beach. The site of the U.S. landing and the white crosses and stars of David that climbed the grassy hill commemorated over 9,400 soldiers and pilots buried there. 

Viking Cruise arranged a special ceremony for us at the site.  As the Stars & Stripes flew in a bright blue sky, we all sang the Star Spangled Banner, followed by a recorded version of taps, and a moment of silence. Then the veterans in the group, including Charles, were recognized. Each of us was given a flower to place on a grave. Charles & I chose to place our flowers on the graves of the fallen from the states where we were born—New York and Tennessee.  We prayed for those whose lives were cut short so that we can be free from tyranny today. 

A breath-taking sculpture stood overlooking the cemetery in honor of those who paid it all. The statue is a representation of a soldier rising from the water with his hand toward heaven.  It is a visual reminder of the brevity of life. 

As we traveled along the beaches, we saw the location of an artificial port build by the Allies. Remnants of the amazing feat of engineering are still visible in the water. In order to supply the thousands of troops, since the Germans controlled all the ports, caissons and piers were floated across the English Channel in order to construct an artificial port at Arromanches, France. Once constructed, tons of material could be loaded onto the beach and trucked inland to supply the fighters.  Those who operated the supply lines are the unsung heroes of the invasion force.

Our last stop on Normandy was to the water’s edge at Omaha Beach.  It was like walking on holy ground as we walked on the sand and looked up at the remaining German bunkers that dotted the hillside.  We left that place thankful and blessed to have lived in a free country bought with the blood of others.

I was reminded of John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.”

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Vive la France - Part One

Viking Longship
Eiffel Tower
Over 55 years ago, I sat in my third-year high school French class wishing I could see the sights of Paris (Par-ee). My American History professor made the events of World War II so interesting I wanted to see where the Allies stormed the beaches of France to liberate Europe from the Nazis. It almost took a lifetime, but I finally checked both items off my bucket list during our recent trip to France.

“Vive la France” is translated: Long Live France or Hurray for France.  This patriotic expression describes our wonderful trip to that country. Viking River Cruises was our host and travel agent for our ten-day tour. We spent three additional days in Paris before we boarded our long ship to travel the Seine River. The weather was picture perfect and so was our experience on board. Our stateroom with balcony was roomy (for a cruise ship) and the dining exceeded our expectations.

I still want to be called “Madame” and “My Lady” and waited on hand and foot but reality has set in. Along with good memories, a nasty French virus decided to fly back home with us. The stowaway gave me a sinus infection and bronchitis that is hard to shake.  But I digress and will go back to the fun parts of the trip.

Sacre-Coeure on Montmartre
The Eiffel Tower is a world renowned symbol of France. This wrought-iron masterpiece was constructed in 1889 when Paris hosted the World’s Fair.  Our hotel room was only a block away, so we had to make the 1,093 ft. ride to the top.  We were not disappointed with our panoramic view of Paris and the serpentine Seine River.

Other Paris adventures included a ride on a funicular to Montmartre to see the Basilica of Sacre-Coeure (Church of the Sacred Heart). We also enjoyed watching local artists paint around the town square. We learned about the 19th & 20th century artists who lived and painted there–Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, & Matisse to name a few.

Monet Garden
French artist, Claude Monet, is one of my favorite painters. A trip to his home and gardens in the French countryside on the second day of our cruise was a highlight for both Charles and me. His gardens and ponds which inspired his paintings are a sight to behold. Acres of colorful flowers were visible from Monet’s second floor studio and became the subjects of his impressionist paintings.

Much of the third day was spent on board enjoying the beauty of the French countryside and the chateaus and rustic villages that lined the banks. We enjoyed the lounge chairs and umbrellas that protected us from the hot sun on the top deck of the ship.  An occasional breeze carried the scent of herbs grown in containers that were to be used in the chef’s kitchen. We were finally able to relax as we floated down the river through the Provence of Normandy on our way to the place where world changing history was made.

Cruising the Seine

Stay tuned for my next blog post with our impressions of the D-day beaches of Normandy and the sights and sounds of our return trip to Paris. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Time for a Change

Multi-tasker Extraordinaire 

Professional boxer and entrepreneur, George Foreman challenges people to think differently about retirement:   “I don't even think about a retirement program because I'm working for the Lord, for the Almighty. And even thought the Lord's pay isn't very high, his retirement program is, you might say, out of this world.” (Brainy Quotes)

On April 13, 2001 I began working alongside Charles in our company Consulting Aviation Services. My duties required me to learn new computer and accounting skills as well as relearn administrative skills that had grown rusty.  Others in our peer group were planning their retirement as Charles and I were planning to kick-start new careers. The path that we chose has had its share of challenges and rewards, but the future potential is positive.  I am thankful that my health was restored by a liver transplant in 1998, and I have been able to make a contribution to the company. 

A sign over my office desk reads:

Do you want to talk to the man in charge, or to the woman who knows what’s going on?

That describes our working relationship. With me in charge of the administrative side of the company, Charles has been able to concentrate on the engineering and technical side. It worked well for us through the years as we supported our joint venture.

After almost eighteen years of part-time work, my last day as a paid employee will be August 31, 2018. Most of my duties have been assumed by our capable Accountant/Administrator, Erin Moss.  Our investors carry out most of the day by day operations of the company, so Charles role is changing as well. 

In the last year, deferred projects have been piling up in my home office.  There is still much to do on Charles’ book—a memoir called Chasing a Whirlwind.  I have put off the less than desirable tasks of sorting closets and dealing with personal photos and paperwork.  A commitment to chair a committee at church and involvement with my writing groups will get me out of the house and involved with others.  More time for exercise and personal spiritual growth is also on my agenda.

In September we will celebrate our successful flight test and my retirement with a long-planned trip to France and a Viking River Cruise to the beaches of Normandy. With the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion scheduled for June 2019, we wanted to beat the crowds and see where history was made.

The next time I blog, I will update you on our much anticipated trip.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Wing and a Prayer

 This  week has been an exciting one for the Two Late Bloomers I blog about each month.
Charles & Frieda
Waiting for Takeoff

This past week has been an exciting one for the Two Late Bloomers I blog about each month. We flew into Philadelphia and traveled to the beautiful state of Delaware to experience a much anticipated event. Our hotel was in the quaint town of Lewes—close to the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean. This historical town was founded by the Dutch in the mid-1600s. “The First Town in the First State” is the motto of Lewes. Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution in 1787, making it the “First State.” 

The real reason for our visit took place in the town of Georgetown at ALOFT AeroArchitects. There we reached an exciting milestone in the history of our company.

A flight test on a Boeing 737-700 aircraft, with Charles’ Finlets attached passed with flying colors. A Federal Aviation Administration Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) has been issued and we are now free to sell his invention to commercial airlines. The engineering process began eight years ago and has involved a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and prayers.
737 Test Flight
Our thanks to our engineers—Rick Hooker, Bryan Jenkins, Andrew Wick, David Sharp and Larry Hill—who have endeavored tirelessly to make our dream a reality. We are also thankful for our investor group led by Propeller Investments. They have been both patient and faithful. And we appreciate the folks at ALOFT AeroArchitects who provided engineering and program management during the FAA STC effort.

It takes a great deal of faith and hard work to keep a dream alive. There is more work to be done, and we are grateful to all of you who have encouraged and prayed for us during this journey. 
Charles’ favorite verse has kept us inspired to keep on, keeping on.
Isaiah 40:31 English Standard Version (ESV)
“ but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Aging - Burden or Blessing

Articles and statistics often point to an ominous future for the world’s aging population.  We are told the percentage of those over 60 is increasing and the birth rate is declining. Predictions are made that economies will collapse because there won’t be enough taxpayers to support an aging population.

Twenty-first century challenges cannot be met by outdated models from the past.  Countries like Germany and some states like California and New York are examples of welfare state economies based on post World War II models. A worker labors for 30-40 years, retires and lives on his/her retirement savings and government benefits, and dies in their mid-60s. This dependency model is unsustainable with people now living into their 80s and 90s, with pensions and health benefits being paid out 20 to 30 years longer than expected.

Two internet articles about aging recommend that policies be put in place that encourage older adults to move away from dependency toward greater independence by working longer and/or volunteering more, thereby adding value to their societies. A January 26, 2018 article written by Linda P. Fried, Getting More from a Longer Life (, “Challenging the stereotypes of dependency, many older people don’t seem to want to retire, do nothing, and divorce themselves from interactions with their families and the world.”  A longer lifespan means that people should be encouraged to continue being a part of the economic fabric of society—producing meaningful work, consuming goods, and paying taxes. When not working, many older adults can provide hours of community service to their communities, churches, and synagogues. Nurturing the next generation and improving the world for our children and grandchildren can be a powerful incentive to live a longer and healthier life.

Sarah Harper in a January 26, 2018 entitled As the World Ages: When Older Populations Become the Majority asks “What happens to our workforces—as well as our communities—when healthy, active individuals are still in full employment in their ninth decade?” That lifestyle would not have been realistic for my parents’ generation but very possible for me and my children.

The mission statement for my blog is: Two Late Bloomers—an inspirational blog about discarding the stereotypes of the senior adult years. The second model of more independence discards many stereotypes. I often think about my goals and intentions during the remaining years of my life. I like to bolster my ego with statements like “I’m not getting older, I’m getting better.” There are some days that the older body tells the younger mind, “You’re getting older, period.”

 Consider the Bible verse from Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

What better goal can any of us have than that? A heart of wisdom will provide the ability to pass truth to the next generation based on our personal experiences and gleanings from God’s word.  Being a blessing and sharing those blessings with others makes our longer lives worth living.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Peace like a River

Amicalola Falls

What is more peaceful than sitting beside a waterfall or mountain stream watching fresh gurgling water tumble over rocks as it moves on its way?  It is soothing for both the mind and body. We had that experience during our recent visit to Amicalola Falls State Park. The abundant spring rains pumped up the volume of water cascading down the mountain side. We heard the roar of the falling water as we hiked in for a better view. Moist spray from the falls dropped the temperature several degrees. What a cool and peaceful place on a hot summer day. As much as we wanted to stay in the mountains and enjoy the refreshing falls, we had to return to the valley and face our busy lives.

Our pastor is delivering sermons on the Fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23.  His recent sermon on “Peace” makes me think about different types of peace.

World Peace – Beauty pageant participants regularly cite “World Peace” as their platform. September 21 is designated as World Peace Day. We do not live in a peaceful world and nations and leaders are always looking for a path to peace. It’s an elusive goal. President Kennedy said, "Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures." 

Peace Corps – This US based organization sends volunteers overseas on projects that help social and economic development. These representatives help other countries understand American culture and learn about the culture of the recipient nations. Its goal is to increase understanding of global issues all countries face.

Peace Signs – These two signs became popular during the Hippie movements of the 60s and 70s. The circular design was created by Gerald Holtorn in 1958 for the British campaign promoting nuclear disarmament. It portrays a despairing human with downcast arms standing against the world. The two-finger V symbol was flashed by President Richard Nixon as he was boarding Air Force One after                                         resigning in disgrace.

Peace Lily – This green plant with white flowers is often found at funerals. The sympathy plant symbolizes the deceased person being in a state of innocence and peace.

Inner Peace – Many philosophies, religions, and cultures emphasize a pathway to peace. Perhaps inner peace is even more elusive than world peace. In our crazy, busy, hyperactive, and caffeinated lives, is it possible to find the inner peace we crave?  Can we recharge our batteries, not just during our annual vacation or weekends, but on a daily basis? The Bible offers wise words and guidance if we wish to find inner peace.

The Psalmist wrote: “Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

The Apostle Paul penned these words from his prison cell: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Peace is available to us as Christians when we tap into the fountain of peace that is God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Inner peace requires us to stop striving, be still, and spend time with our creator, savior, and comforter. That’s how we will find peace with God, ourselves, and others.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Life Interrupted

A successful life is to be enjoyed, celebrated, and always on an upward path to happiness. Or so we are told.  Most of us believe this and do everything we can to ensure this positive outcome for the years we are given.

Celebrities seem to have all the good things of life. Check-out line magazines glamorize their lifestyles and scandalous behavior. Successful sports stars and Hollywood types become the role models young people want to emulate. 

The shocking news of two celebrities that committed suicide reveals a different reality than the tabloids. Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain appeared to have it all—success, fame, fortune, and a glamourous lifestyle. The dark thoughts and struggles they experienced were kept well hidden from the public. The teenage daughters they left behind will face their grief with more questions than answers.

Yesterday, two Kansas City deputies were shot to death as they were transporting an inmate from jail to the courthouse. Apparently the inmate overpowered the officers in the police car. It is such a tragic ending for those trying to do their job and uphold the law.  Several children no longer will have their mother and father in their lives.

Life was turned upside down for two friends from our church whose daughter died from Sepsis after going to the hospital with a kidney stone. No parent expects to outlive their children and that grief seems more difficult to bear. Such an event leaves one feeling helpless and hopeless.

I know that our friends’ daughter believed in Jesus and that her parents will take comfort and encouragement from two Bible verses that speak on the subject of grief. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who are without hope.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Grief is a darkness that all of us will experience at some point in our lives, but a very necessary process that leads to healing. The difference for the Christian is that we have the ability to grieve with hope–knowing that this life isn’t the end. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome knowing he would soon experience his own death:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13 

The older I get the more I am aware of the brevity of this life. Like many of you I’ve experienced seasons of grief and probably will again in the future. I pray that all of us who grieve will find the hope that only faith in Jesus Christ can give.

Stages of Grief