I hate to fly. It scares me. The last time I was on a plane was 632 days ago. Flying during Covid adds to the stress. It’s possible that I love the RV because I don’t need to get on a plane. But sometimes you must down the alcohol (which you can’t do on Southwest anymore – so I need to pregame!) and enter the aircraft right foot first. I was headed to the In My Shoes event!
JAFCO honored my cousin, Dr. Lisa Sirota, for her pro bono medical work with children receiving services from this life-changing organization. I can write a book about Lisa, so suffice it to say that there isn’t another person like her in the universe. She is a compassionate, brilliant pediatrician and human! Everyone needs a Dr. Lisa in their world.
Lisa suggested to the planning committee that they include me in the In My Shoes event. The luncheon was to benefit the Children’s ABILITY Center, which is a unique respite location. Many families of children with disabilities signed up for the stellar ceremony. I have walked in the Shoes of the families and they have walked In My Shoes.
Lisa called me in the early summer and said that she suggested that I speak at the event. I had not heard anything by Labor Day and was a bit relieved (Sorry, Lisa) because now I didn’t have to fly to Florida. But then I received an email asking me to be the Keynote Speaker. I immediately said yes and then began my freak-out. Now I had to step My SHOES on the plane! My daughter Carly volunteered to go with me and return to her childhood role as my flying nanny.
“I Don’t Want to Fly on a Broken plane.”
I have not flown since February 2020, 632 days. The non-stop flight to Florida was half-full and on time. Carly and I found our seats and prepared for take-off. The plane left the gate and started moving towards the runway. I did all my superstitious routines and was as ready as I could be to fly. Suddenly, Carly says to me, “Mom, we are back at the gate!” WHAT?
The flight attendant said that there was a problem with the brakes, and they needed to call maintenance.
They kept updating us that Maintenance is almost here; they are working on it. It shouldn’t be too long now… I got up to use the bathroom and the flight attendant at the back of the plane, gave a firm “You can’t come back here!”
Within moments there was an announcement that sounded to my anxious ears – No Smoking – No Vaping- Federal Regulations -Stop- OMG- We Are Doomed! I doubt that’s what they said, but something like that. Carly looked at me and said, “I don’t want to fly on a Broken plane.” That’s all I needed to hear!
I went to the front of the plane and asked the flight attendant about other flights, and at the exact moment, the staff member who checked us in appeared at the door. She said, “Come with me” – “Are you from NY? I can hear it in your voice.” She was from NY too. And so, we bonded over our NY accents. She told me a flight at the next gate was leaving in a few minutes with only two seats left.
IS THAT WHY I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU?
ON YOUR MARK GET SET GO!
I was instructed to go back on the plane, get Carly, and do not say a word. If anyone else hears, there will be chaos. Carly and I quickly exited the plane, ran to the next gate. Yes, we were the two people who got all the looks when entering the new flight at the last minute.
The good news is we made it (since I am writing this blog- you already knew that). The original flight was eventually canceled and had we not jumped ship? plane? We would not have arrived in time for the speech.
IN MY SHOES
The JAFCO In My Shoes event was spectacular. My cousin Lisa received her Welcome to Holland Award and introduced me to the large crowd. There were many families of children with disabilities in the vast audience. I wanted to make sure that they received my message” You will be OK, you will survive, there is help and HOPE.
Survival of our Family
My dad and Carly were in the room, as were other family members. I got up to the podium and started to speak about our daughter Jessica and how Respite helped our family. I believe RESPITE made a difference in the survival of our family – jess who required total care was able to successfully live at home until age 25. And we didn’t have anything like JAFCO’s Children’s ability center! The supports for entire families provided by this center and organization is life-changing for parents
Respite for us meant that Mitch and I were able to provide typical experiences to our two younger children. Yes, we felt guilty that we were doing activities as a family without jess – taking a break…But it’s bigger than that – we have other children and they also needed some respite, the whole family is engaged.
I was immensely honored to speak for Jafco – They give so much to the community.
Giving every child a place to belong
JAFCO provides a full continuum of high-quality services including foster care, adoption, family preservation, mentoring, independent living, and developmental disability programs.
As I started to speak the crowd became still, and they listened, they laughed with me. I am incredibly grateful to my cousin and JAFCO for trusting that I could pull this off! And Yes, we still had to fly home……
I boarded a flight 632 days ago to mourn my Mother. So much has happened since that pre-Covid date. We missed my mom at the JAFCO event and hoped that she somehow knew we were there and thinking of her.
DEAR Cherished BLOG READERS,
I am taking a month off from blog writing so that I can focus on promoting the book. I have a real publicist! And they know I hate to fly and will still work with me! If you haven’t checked out the book Raising jess – click here.