I Did It!

By Margot Steward


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JANUARY 2007 EDITION OF SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VICTORIA BC

I DID IT! Last weekend I jumped out of a plane at the 12,500 feet and lived to watch the DVD. I know you're thinking either "Wow!" or "Wow! She's nuts!" Let me explain.

When I was 19, which although nearly half a century ago often feels like yesterday, my summer boyfriend was a skydiver. I was dying (bad choice of words) to jump too, but in those days you had to have a parental signature if under the age of majority and my parents unreasonably refused to sign. "When you finish university you can do anything you want, dear." Of course student loans, mortgages, babies and responsibilities overcame adventure.

But I never forgot, and decided to celebrate my 65th by jumping. But a dead of winter birthday (another unfortunate choice of words) delayed the adventure until summer, which due to other adventures, became late summer. My car has a picnic table built into the cargo area. Sensible Daughter asked when I bought it, "Mom, you didn't buy that car because of the picnic table, did you?" "Of course not!" Then the idea came that I could have a tailgate party at the jump site with a sumptuous picnic and chilled champagne with my daughters, their partners and all my grandchildren. Sensible Daughter: "Mom, you don't seriously think we're going to take your grandchildren to watch you plummet into the ground?" Enthusiastic me: "But that's not going to happen!" Fortunately, I had one friend willing to go with me. I'm not sure he realized I was serious - until I'd booked the jump and it was too late to back out.

We arrived at the jump site, got suited up, received the 15-minute training in free-fall form and were loaded into an ancient Australian Second World War Platypus fighter. Up, up, up we went. At 12,500 feet my tandem instructor harnessed himself firmly to my back. I donned the helmet and goggles and found myself sitting on the floor of the plane, door open, legs dangling into space - lots and lots of space! And then with camcorder rolling we tumbled out and I assumed the free-fall position of arms spread like a bird, head up (so the camera could catch every grimace) and ankles neatly crossed for stability. Ten to 15 seconds of free-fall, like life, seems to last forever and was over in a flash. My four-point landing lacked a certain style and grace and I was deaf for an hour while my ears thawed and popped, but I was the most exhilarated birthday girl in the valley.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! You may not be impressed, but my 12-year old grandson was! I've never impressed him before and may never again, but for a few seconds I loved the look on his face. And now I've crossed skydiving off my "once-before-you-die list" and have a six-minute DVD to prove it.

What's still on your list? And what are you waiting for?

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