220px-Divine_Secrets_of_the_Ya-Ya_Sisterhood_filmI watched a movie the other night with my daughter – we borrowed several of them from a local library and “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” was the one we decided to watch first.  ***By the way, borrowing DVDs and Audio Books from a library is an awesome way to save money on entertainment, and most libraries, at least around here, have a wide selection of genres and titles from which to choose. But I digress…

DSOTYYS was a great movie with an excellent cast, interesting story line and believable characters, and it succeeded in keeping my attention focused on the characters and plot throughout the entire movie  – well, throughout almost the entire movie.

There was actually one scene in the movie where my mind did wander away from the all-star cast playing out their roles on the screen in front of me, and that was the scene where the mother and daughter protagonists went for a ride in a single-engine plane flown by a dark-haired, good-looking pilot.

The young daughter had originally been too afraid to fly in the open-air plane when the opportunity was presented to her during an afternoon outing with her family, but she later told her mama that she really did want to fly and that she was sorry she had missed her chance. And her mama looked her in the eye and said, then my darling we will fly in that plane, and eventually, after a couple of plot twists and turns, they climbed aboard.

We saw the characters sitting in the plane, saw the plane soaring above the green fields, saw mother and daughter enjoying the cooling breeze of the wind on their faces and in their hair.

And I was fine, attuned to the joy the daughter felt at the thrill of her first flight.

Then the pilot motioned to the mother and said, where is your house? That way, she replied, pointing. We’ll fly over it, he said.

And they did. And when they did, the front door of the house opened and everyone who was inside came pouring out to cheer at a plane with their loved ones in it flying so low over the house roof and treetops that it looked as if it might graze the branches on its way past.

Women and children waved their arms, their aprons, their kitchen towels, whatever they had, high in the air as they cheered, and the pilot returned their hearty acknowledgement by dipping the plane’s wings at them in a mid-air salute.

That was the moment when my mind left the story and flew back in time to scenes from my own life’s movie.

Once again it was the summer of my high school graduation and I had just turned eighteen. The far-away buzz of a plane overhead was enough to make me come running out of my family’s farmhouse into the yard, because I knew, before even spying the single-engine plane in the sky, that it was being flown by my boyfriend, Gary, also a recent high school graduate of eighteen.

Pilot Licence 001
Gary receiving his Private Pilot Licence 1971

Gary had joined Air Cadets when he was 12 or 13 and worked his way up through the ranks until he was a Warrant Officer 1st Class – the highest rank an Air Cadet can attain – and the year we graduated he was awarded a Flying Scholarship that enabled him to train that summer for his Private Pilot Licence at a nearby military base.

He was a good student, especially when he was interested in the subject matter, and he was definitely interested in flying. He aced the tough exams, and because of his easy-going personality he quickly made friends not only with the other students but with the instructors in charge of keeping the young would-be pilots safe in the planes they flew.

I’m not sure if all student pilots were allowed to fly over their girlfriend’s homes that summer, but my student pilot certainly did it, every chance he had, and he would circle my house until he saw me, then dip his wings at me like he was smiling his gorgeous smile my way. And my heart melted each time I saw the plane approach. 

Even my mother and my grandmother and my siblings joined in the waving and cheering – mom and grammy waved their aprons or tea towels and the rest of us wildly waved our arms – until the circling plane stopped circling and gradually disappeared into the distance.

The summer of 1971 was a summer of both endings and beginnings for me, like graduation summers are for most young people, and that was where my thoughts landed during the movie a few nights ago.

That scene in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood triggered both happy and sad feelings in me – sad because the past is the past and the young pilot I loved has died – but happy because I do have wonderful memories of being a young woman in love with a man who would later become my husband.

After a few minutes of reminiscing in silence I rejoined the present and finished watching the movie with my daughter. It was a good movie and if you haven’t seen it I would highly recommend it.

But if you’ve ever loved a pilot, even just a student one, be prepared to drift back in time for a bit when the flight scene appears.

Until the next time, thanks for dropping by and reading, and remember – don’t be a stranger.

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10 thoughts on “Of Movies and Men and Memories

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