Forty years ago, I worked as an aircraft mechanic before returning to my original career as a writer. During that time I worked on airplanes as diverse as supersonic Navy F-14 Tomcat fighters and small commuter “puddle jumpers” like Shorts SD330 “Winnebagos” and Fairchild Metro III “Sewer Pipes”. But the apple of my eye was always a frumpy, dumpy, lizard-skinned USAF C-130 Hercules named the Aerospace Chicken (Tail No. 70-1259). We affectionately called them “Trash Haulers” because they carried everything — sometimes, quite literally as I did once, trash.
Next year I will be the same age as my mother when she died. I don’t attach any great significance to that other than it occurred to me in response to someone else’s similar thought. It hadn’t occurred to me because I don’t often think of my Mom. As a rule, I don’t generally think about dead people at all. It’s not that I don’t miss her or that I didn’t love her, but she is gone; like Monty Python’s dead parrot. She is deceased.
I’ll be 60 years old in a few months, an age that as I write this, seems a bit shocking. When people reach the cusp of senior citizenry they naturally begin seeing an up-tick in the number of familiar obituaries or notes from far-flung places that so and so has died. Sometimes unexpectedly, like a friend I lost today, or sometimes after some ghastly illness that makes me want to go ballistic at the ne’er die with dignity crowd — unable to let someone die in peace without taking one last stab at how they should run their life.