Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Weekend: Flying in a Bonanza, Shooting Skeet, Riding a Four-Wheeler, Shopping, Going to a Memorial Service

I flew to Georgia this weekend with PawPaw in his Bonanza airplane. I'm getting quite adept at climbing up onto the wing, easing down into the plane and sliding into my seat, putting on my earphones and connecting the jacks. I've learned how to read some of the instruments, and I love watching the GPS unit as it tracks the plane's progress. Coming back this afternoon, flying out of a tiny airport south of Atlanta, we were directed on a flight path over Stone Mountain, GA. I remember years ago climbing Stone Mountain and thinking of how HUGE it was. From the air, it doesn't look nearly as impressive. As a matter of fact, when PawPaw first said, "Look, there's Stone Mountain!" I thought he was wrong. That small mound of rock couldn't possibly be Stone Mountain, could it? As we got closer, it was obvious that it was, indeed, Stone Mountain. When we passed over it, I saw the lake that's around part of it, and the roads, and the park area - all vaguely familiar from when I was there years ago. I looked back as we passed and could even view the carving on the side!

I've flown with PawPaw many times, and I never cease to be amazed at how things look from a few thousand feet in the air. First of all, on the ground it looked like a brilliantly clear day. At six thousand feet, the layer of haze and pollution is clearly there - definitely worse around Atlanta than more rural areas. The other thing that I'm amazed about is how orderly and beautiful everything is - like a giant crazy quilt of shapes and colors and patterns - constantly changing as we go. During part of the trip we were above the expressway I usually travel when I'm driving between Tennessee and Georgia. Everything looks so different from the plane. At one point I found I-75 and tried to figure out which exits I could see. Later, I was able to pick out I-24 as it curved through Chattanooga, and then the foundry plant next to the river north of town. Most of the time, though, it was difficult to identify familiar places on the ground.

A lot was crammed into a couple days. I went four-wheeling through the fields early this morning around PawPaw's barn. I had ridden with Scalawag last year when he first got his four-wheeler, but I had never ridden it by myself. What fun! Yesterday I went shopping with Meah while Scalawag and PawPaw hunted. We had such a good time talking and looking through stores at the mall. I loved being at the farm later when Scalawag finally broke his 4-year deer-hunting dry spell -- and being able to congratulate him on getting a 10-point buck. I had fun shooting skeet and Dr. Thunder cans yesterday afternoon. I FINALLY hit a can and watched as the carbonated contents exploded. PawPaw and Scalawag hit the skeet and cans almost every time. Out of all my shots, only one connected. I guess that means that the bad guys are fairly safe around me - but not when I'm with PawPaw or Scalawag. The cans were the most fun to shoot because Scalawag would shake one up first and then throw it in the air. When it was hit with the shotgun, the can would start spinning wildly in the air with Dr. Thunder spewing out in spirals. (P.S. Dr. Thunder is Wal-Mart's version of Dr. Pepper. A case of 24 is about $3.00 - cheaper than some targets, and definitely more fun!)

Then came the reason for the trip to Georgia. This afternoon we attended the memorial service for PawPaw's cousin, Kathy. The chapel was so crowded that people were standing outside, listening to the service. A wonderful soloist started off the service by singing "Amazing Grace" a cappella. Then Kathy's husband, in a breaking voice, gave a tender eulogy for his wife of 22 years. The minister that spoke next was the same one who had married them years ago.

One observation since I've attended two memorial services this week. In both services, the minister did what we used to describe as an "altar call" during the service - calling on the people there to give themselves to Jesus. Is that typical at funerals - to try to convert people? I don't know why it bothered me, but it seemed to take away from what I feel is the purpose of a memorial service - to honor the person who died. I wanted to hear stories about Kathy - things she did during her lifetime, the people she touched, her accomplishments. People can go to church for a regular church service if they're looking to be saved or if they want to hear a sermon. It seems unkind to play on people's already raw emotions at a funeral by trying to convert them. A funeral is to celebrate the deceased's memory. I'm sure others view the practice differently, but I thought it was tacky and opportunistic.

That pretty much sums up the weekend. Although the past three days have included two funerals, it has been an enjoyable time. I saw people I hadn't seen in a long time, I was able to get outside and have fun with some of my close family, and I got to fly in a small airplane twice.

1 comment:

Janice said...

I'm uncomfortable with the altar calls at funerals and weddings -- doesn't seem appropriate for such occasions to me. But, I know that some churches and some pastors believe that there ought to be an opportunity for people to accept Jesus at every event in a church.

Your weekend, in spite of the funeral and sadness over Kathy's tragic death, seems to have been full of good outdoor activities.