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Time Flies and So is My Nephew

When I first started this column, my nephew Malcolm was three years old and didn’t read it. Just made fun of my picture — head tilted to the side like a clown trying to shed his wig. Now he’s 13 and devours each word every chance he gets.

I enjoy his critiques, as it’s not my duty to cater to one crowd over the other. Youth must also be served. There are days when I reminisce about putting him in his red wagon and pulling with gusto to the Loyal Plaza or Bruce E. Henry Park or Ed’s Market. He’s too heavy now, and I am too weak, so unless he straps a motor on it (anything is possible with him), it’s currently an impossibility.

I miss having our “talks” along the way. It was the closest thing to me having a child of my own. We’d chat on (non) smoking and wise health options, on peer pressure, of pets, of cars. He would fill me in on the latest school trends and technology. He’s a lovable and intelligent kid; he may be different and defiant on occasion, but not stupid. Traits that I feel describe me at least four of seven days per week.

As of late, if I need to discuss anything with him, it might as well be in an airplane. Yes, you read me right. The tiny kid I used to haul around in a wagon is now taking flying lessons and is in a cockpit! Most kids his age are content to worry about getting to a football game on Friday night, or a dance. He’s more concerned with aerodynamics, and lift and thrust, and rudders and landing gear.

His first lesson went without fanfare since there wasn’t a parade of fire trucks and emergency personnel waiting for him to touch down at the Williamsport Regional Airport. In fact, my 82-year-old father took to the friendly skies with Malcolm and the flight instructor!

From what I understand, this particular instructor flew old bomber planes up to the jet swept wing B1. Impressive.

Having two Ayers boys head onward and upward made me proud. My father is fragile, and Malcolm is daring and adventurous. The instructor totally steady. They were up in the air for almost two hours, and I am certain that one day Malcolm will ask me to strap in and go with them.

A refusal would be in order. At this point, the excitement, the nerves, the bouncing from any turbulence would put my fragile innards over the edge. Some may say, “Gerry is a wimp. Just get in, shut up, and enjoy the bird’s eye view.”

Readers, it’s hard enough to do a bicycle ride without hitting jarring potholes or sidewalk cracks that cause turmoil to joints and intestines. I sometimes cringe at night before bed doing this, but I stayed on the ground. Hospitals are easy to find down here, at pavement level, but a tad harder amongst puffy clouds in the wild blue yonder.

Malcolm’s goal later in life (at this stage) is to become a commercial pilot. To travel the world and help others discover it also. Sorry, I don’t care for the “big birds” either, as they are often cramped, lose your luggage and people would toss me out on the wing for excusing myself to the restroom over and over.

My flying days are over, and his are just beginning. As mentioned, time really flies, and I am guilty of not making his birthday parties, school functions, and sporting events more of a priority.

To that, I can only apologize, as an uncle should do. I failed miserably in that department of life. But with the admission of regret comes the chance for redemption. I plan to allow more time for things. He isn’t a shed to clean; he’s my nephew! The clock is ticking.

My brother vowed from early on not to be a “cat in the cradle dad.” One that never made valuable time to be with his children, and by the time they are grown, have no time for him! All they want are the car keys. “Can I have them, dad, see you later please.”

Let’s hope and pray you do the same for your children and everyone grows up to live happily ever after. I cherish using time management skills to the fullest, with work and play and leisure being a balance in life. However, certain areas demand an overhaul, this being a royal case in point.

The mere thought of Malcolm buzzing over my house really sends chills down my spine. Not because he’ll drop an oversize water balloon to pierce my yard as a prank, but because of the major responsibility he has put on himself at such a tender age. Learning to troubleshoot during violent wind sheer or engine failure doesn’t seem to faze him.

Life is to be of adventure and freedom. He has me aced in that department also. I was to live and work and write here like a plane flying in circles. My gut feeling says he will reside in Florida or Arizona or California, a journeyman.

He’s not the type of young man to scrape ice off windows on the way to the terminal. I wish him the best with achieving his flying license.

However, hey buddy, are you SURE you and a classmate don’t want to go to that concert next weekend with me? It’s long, long overdue.

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