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Shannon Bardwell: High flying adventure


Tom Hardy and Momma, on her 70th birthday.

Tom Hardy and Momma, on her 70th birthday.
Photo by: Courtesy



Shannon Bardwell



We were walking through the then McRae''s at the then Columbus Mall when Momma looked over at the display of fine china and crystal. The tables were arranged and appointed with dinner plates and bowls; crystal shimmered in spotlights while sterling silverware edged the plates. Momma said, "Don''t you wish you could just yank that tablecloth off?" 


"No I don''t wish to yank the tablecloth off." I wanted to say, "Are you nuts?" but you didn''t say that to my momma. 


She continued, "I couldn''t say that when you were little, but I have always wanted to knock that stuff off, it looks too perfect." 


The more I thought about it, my momma had a wild, adventurous side -- one I didn''t share with her and one that she let go of after having children ... somewhat. 


I grew up in a neighborhood where grownups gathered up lawn chairs in the evening. They visited while kids played "hide and seek" and "kick the can."  


One night there was commotion at the chair gathering, and someone said Momma was going to the emergency room because she had bragged that she could still walk on her hands and did, when she came down she got a nasty cut on her foot. I don''t remember being embarrassed that Momma was walking on her hands for the neighbors.  


For Momma''s 70th birthday there was something she wanted to do. I couldn''t tell Dad because he and I shared that cautious nature. But Momma wanted to throw caution to the wind, so I made the phone call and set up the time and place. I didn''t tell Dad what we were doing or he''d put the kibosh to it.  


We drove to a private airport and got out of the car. I walked over to an older gentleman and introduced myself. "Momma, this is Tom Hardy, and he''s going to take you up in his glider."  


Her eyes widened, and a big smile broke out. Dad started to huff and puff. I quickly whisked him away. "It''s her birthday," I said. 


Mr. Hardy suggested that I touch the glider. I could tip the plane from side to side like a balsa wood toy. He assured me I had nothing to worry about. "The motor can''t quit, you know." Soon he and Momma were being towed into the wild blue yonder. I saw the tow rope drop on the tarmac and felt my heart drop with it.  


When Momma returned, "It was so quiet up there," she said. "Mr. Hardy said we could do loop-d-loops, but I was scared your father would have a heart attack." 


"Momma, on your 80th birthday you can do loop-d-loops," I assured her.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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