Journal to my Dad

Journal to my Dad.

Since today is Father’s Day, I share with you two recent, private entries in my journal to my Dad.   They were not written to share.  But at this moment, on this Father’s Day, I feel it appropriate to do so.  (They are unedited and you won’t “get” all the references. But I believe you’ll get more than the gist.)

Story of a brilliant, charming man, Saunie Gravely.

Saunie Gravely in cockpit of the DC-3 named GAYE LYN.

This photo – AGAIN. It’s my favorite.

I proudly say I’m researching my father’s airline and I’m going to write about it. Find a worthy outlet for it. It’s aviation – our love. It’s airplanes and flying. It’s the story of the DC-3 named GAYE LYN. It’s a story of a brilliant, charming man who created and made an impossible dream come true because it was necessary for his veteran buddies to find work. I’m really proud of his accomplishment, of him.

Taught me confidence by osmosis

Dad, you gave me so much. You gave me your sense of bravado. That I could do things, learn things, be somebody. You taught me to drive, way before my legal age. And driving has always been a pleasure to me, cars have always been important to me, not just a mode of transportation, (but) a true source of enjoyment. Mr. Tanner said, “I’ve never known a woman who knew what a tachometer was, let alone be excited about it!”

SAUNIE GRAVELY, pilot & owner of this Stinson Gullwing Reliant

Dad in his Stinson Gullwing. The airplane he first took me flying in out of Linden Airport, NJ, when I was 3 or 4 years old.

Dad, you took me flying probably when I was three or four years old. And lit a flame that grew into a career I adored… was passionate about. 

Gaye Lyn Gravely with her dad, Saunie, learning to shoot archery.

Becoming an archer (interestingly enough, my Zodiac sign!). Was probably in 3rd grade here. Not sure. But my aim was good!

You taught me responsibility. Trusted me enough to teach me to shoot guns, pistols and rifles. Trusted my judgment enough to teach me archery. Did I understand that then? Or, by osmosis, did I become secure, assured, confident because I was given the experience, trusted with the huge responsibility of cars, horses, guns, bow and arrow?

Saunie & Gaye Lyn Gravely, the day she took her Dad flying.

The day I took Dad flying, out of Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ. He told everyone who would listen, “This is my daughter and she’s been flying with me since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. And today SHE took ME flying!”

I learned to fly – literally & figuratively!

And, along the way, I learned to fly, saying it taught me more about myself than anything I’ve ever done in my life. Rights of passage.  And, because I saw you as trustworthy and capable and vibrant, I wanted to be all those things, too. I became Me. Singularly Me.

Journal: Thursday, 4/6/2015. 6:58 AM

Today’s perspective peppered with childlike glee

In all my dreams and wakings, I never expected to run into you, Dad, at this place, stage, time of my life. You’re permeating me. This project of researching the airline snaps me into the reality of you. Perspective I never could have achieved as a child. And yet there’s a childlike glee in me as I find people, talk as I did just yesterday to the youngest of four sons of Charles Eason. My delight in hearing a friendly voice say, “This is Peter Eason,” was a thrill. My third or fourth such thrill in two weeks. My time goes like an instant. My absorption and my discoveries motivate me to understand my endeavor. And you, dear Father, are the center, the heart.

It seems I’m bringing delight and happiness to the “kids” like me – your cohorts’ kids. That never dawned on me until yesterday. Peter says his father was a very private person. He, Peter, knew nothing about an airline until he read it in his father’s obituary. Who knows where this quest and search will take me? What I may uncover? It’s so you with its twists and turns. Surprises. You were that, Dad, if you were nothing else…full of surprises. Not all good, some exceedingly wonderful. Your entire life.

John Cooper POWYS book cover for The Meaning of Culture

“The Meaning of Culture,” by English author, John Cooper Powys. (Copyrighted 1929). Recommended Reading by my Dad 30+ years ago. I only recently dove in. And learned a lot about the depth of Dad’s character & intellect.

Look at the surprises of John Cooper Powys. You delivered a real gem to me in him. I don’t recall telling you that I was sorry to have ignored your invite 30+ years back to “get something started” so we could get reacquainted.  I’m sorry I wasn’t ready. Was so disbelieving.

Can’t go back. Am here now. And am moving forward. I cannot allow myself to be sad or melancholy. It does neither of us any good. I sing to the treetops, instead, and tell whoever will listen or help about this dream you materialized in throbbing DC-3 engines, in their turned up noses I instinctively love, that you flew and named after me. How precious is that?

An airshow Stinson Gullwing reminds Gaye Lyn of the one owned by her Dad and her early-childhood flights with him.

Not her Dad’s Stinson Gullwing. But a reminder of “the good old days” when she first flew with him.

“I’ve never realized how much you are like your father.”

I feel precious. I was precious to both you and Mother. I could not have been given more by either of you. And her admission, that day in San Francisco when I must of been 30-something, “I’ve never realized how much you are like your father.” It was an observation based on whatever I had just said or done. It was not a putdown. Not a criticism. Of the millions of things I’ve forgotten in my life, that moment, that statement is not among the forgotten. As I sit here today, remembering it again for the umpteenth time, I’m pleased, joyful for the compliment and equally warmed that she could think of you in positive terms and see us connected – you and me.

Journal: Tuesday 6/2/2015 8:22 AM


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Then & There…

A RECOMMENDED READ and irreplaceable for me: "Memories of the Jing Bao & Beyond," Authors Choice Press, 2001. Written by our own JACK Z. STETTNER - Veterans Air Express Co-Founder, Investor, Pilot and Operations Manager. As well as his considerable WWII experiences, Jack's book revealed new details about Veterans Air Express...plus the spirit and character of this organization that Jack obviously loved!