She had a gut feeling. An instinct that told her it was time. All of a sudden, within about a month's notice, my Mom decided she needed to retire. As of Dec. 1, 2000, I would have both parents home for my birthday. You see, with a December birthday and both parents in the airline industry, I would inevitably have to choose, "Do I want them both home for Christmas or my birthday?" Yes, the birthday would always get the shaft. Dad had been retired since 1997 with roughly 27(?) years of flying for United Airlines on his record and Mom retired with 33 years of flight attendance for TWA.

Brief timeline for you: American Airlines bought TWA January of 2001. Mom missed the buy-out by a month. She missed working for an airline that was so affected by 9/11 that all TWA flight attendants (still working for American) were furloughed. Dad missed 9/11 by about 4 years. Mom, just 8 months.
A family that flies.


"So it's real?" I asked my English teacher as I walked into the familiar room of my 7am class, junior year of high school. My teacher's facial expression was unfamiliar, though, with a very serious, tight-lipped nod, she confirmed that something was very wrong in NYC. It was Sept. 11, 2001.

I had heard the radio DJs mention that a plane had run into the WTC on my way to school that morning-their laughter over the absurdity of the news made me question their credibility. When I tred cautiously into English and saw Mrs. Holmes' demeanor while the news was showing footage, the facts I'd heard were brought into focus.

Call me a visual learner.

The day was a haze after that. Teachers had the muted TV on the entire day, so you can imagine what got accomplished.... As my US history teacher began his lecture on the Revolutionary War, we all gasped, watching the first tower fall. The TV was unmuted after that. It wasn't an accident, our country had been attacked. We were watching US history unfold. Live.

At the time, my sister and her future husband were both freshmen at the Air Force Academy. All cadets were under a lock down. While all of campus and the surrounding base went on high alert, Katie's calm voice over the phone assuaged my fears: that if we went to war over this, they had 4 years to win it so she'd never have to be involved.

2005. Katie and I visited NYC and stayed with a dear friend. We trepidatiously asked her to lead us to Ground Zero. A born Brit, but committed American and staunch New Yorker, Roberta had never visited the site since she saw the towers fall from her office window. "It felt like we'd been raped. Our sense of security had been shattered. Absolutely shattered." Her British accent dissolved into a whisper. Yet, she agreed to come with us.

Among the taxis honking, cabbies yelling, roar of Manhattan traffic, we were stoicly quiet as we walked together looking at the gaping hole. I don't know if it was theraputic or nightmarish for her. We were just. Quiet.


2007. While unpacking the moving boxes, I found an even earlier trip to NYC we had taken in 1996 as a group of girls-Mom, Katie, me and we had visited our favorite Brit, Roberta. We toured the WTC skyscrapers and I found this picture among the moving boxes...a view that won't ever be the same again.
(Statue of Liberty from the Twin Towers)

2011. Now, 10 years later, Katie's husband, Eric has served in Afghanistan flying F-16s. Katie is currently a civilian finishing her third degree and raising this little one. Our family's next potential Little Flier:

It's incredible to me how God works in our lives to spare some of us from tragedy. Parents who worked for (or could've worked for) the airlines that were most heavily affected by the tragedy. A sister and brother-in-law bravely serving our country sacrificially. . . I praise God with a thankful heart that I can have such a comfortable and freedom-filled life. Despite the politicians bickering, the scandals of unethical choices made, the country's current economic status, America is still an incredible place to live.

And an incredible place to fly.