Anna Falling: My Sam

One spring day my dad introduced me to a friend of his who was building his own airplane. I was 12 at the time.

For some reason, I got it in my head that I sure would like to fly that little two-seater airplane. Sure enough, not too long afterward the plane was ready to fly and my dad made arrangements for me to take a ride.

After an exhilarating afternoon in the clouds, flying over the rivers and hills of Oklahoma’s Indian country, I was hooked. And I daydreamed, seeing myself flying my own plane over the snow-covered valleys, hopping from city to city saving the world.

A few years later my family and I moved from our small town to the big city of Tulsa, where there were bigger airplanes and you didn’t have to make a preliminary run at the grass landing strip to move the cows off.

My dream was still planted, just a little dormant, until one day I came home from school with a piece of paper announcing a new Explorer Scout session to learn how to fly. I immediately went to my father, ever the Boy Scout, and asked him if this was for girls too.

He responded with a “well, there’s only one way to find out …” That night we started the journey to fulfill my dream. By the time I was 16, I had my first solo flight and my pilot’s license by the time I was 18.

My dad became my first passenger and we have the moment etched in memory as he exited the plane and promptly kissed the ground. He knew I could fly, he just provided the ways and means to help me soar.

And I knew after that, I could take on the world. At the age of 21, I found myself in China. My dad was my biggest fan, writing faithfully every week on the corner of an aerogramme he shared with my mother.

He cheered and cringed as I filed for public office and surprisingly won. He walked with me down the aisle when I got married; was there when I gave birth to my first child and watched me continue my efforts at saving the world.

But he wasn’t surprised by any of this. He just helped me see what he already knew. I could fly.

Sams just know.

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