Thursday, September 20, 2018

During the Worst of Times, the Best of Times: Live Like You Were Dying

On the non-Jewish calendar, today is my 61st birthday.

Last week was the saddest of times. The 45-year-old father of four, Ari Fuld, Hy"d, was murdered. While grocery shopping. For being a Jew in the Holy Land. I cried a lot during Yom Kippur, for a young widow and four orphans. I cried for a Jewish people who had lost a hero, a man whose passion for Israel, for the Jewish people, for Zionism, for teaching Torah, was unquenchable and inspirational to countless people around the world. He was also a teacher of self-defense to men, women, and children. And my heart broke for them: if the Lion of Zion could be taken down, who couldn't be? Who could feel safe at a shopping center ostensibly designed to show the world that coexistence is possible, when some shoppers believe that it's okay to stab a man in the back?

But from the little that I personally knew of Ari, I believe the best tribute I can give him is to continue living. In Israel. Proudly Jewish. Proudly Zionist.

My sons arranged for the best birthday present I have ever received, and a wonderful tribute to LIFE. They took me skydiving.

This was actually the bachelor party for my son that was postponed due to weather. (He's been married for just over two years. Spoiler alert: marrying her was a great idea.) Dani told his buddies that this was the day to give it another go, and that they'd have one more attendee. While none of my other sons could participate due to the demands of work, they paid for my ticket, sent supportive comments throughout the day, and cheered at the end as if Moms had climbed Everest.

I had a great crew, including my youngest son and my Dearly Beloved (who chose to play the role of ground crew, since he doesn't believe in jumping out of moving vehicles at 11,000 feet in the air). One a kid I've known since he was born. Another, my son's brother-in-law. The last member of the crew is one of our star football players, whom I will miss very much. Until he can't handle the sidelines any more...)

L-R: Gideon Reis, Dani Eastman, Ruti Eastman, Avi Eastman, Avi Schamroth, Avrami Farkas

The flight crew, geared up.
Paradive in Haifa is staffed with people who clearly love their work. First, young ladies with great senses of humor had us fill out the usual "if you die or are badly injured, don't blame us" legal paperwork. (All jesting aside, they really are careful to make sure you are not jumping into the deep end, so to speak, without knowing the dangers.) Then they showed us a promotional/instructional video. There was constant briefing to be sure we knew what to do and when to do it, and what not to do. The instructors/guides were calm and patient, and fun.

My guide was a very respectful fellow named Arnon. He was a great teacher, giving information and encouragement as needed. He taught me how to twirl the parachute so that it was like a wonderful aeronautical waltz. We had a very pleasant flight over the teal-blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Arnon didn't seem to mind when I chattered joyfully about the amazing world of beauty God has created for us to enjoy.

Paradive does a very cool thing for the spectators (in this case, Team Avi): they post the parachute colors of each participant, thus allowing the spotters on the ground to get some good aerial shots.


Hey, Avrami! Lookin' good!


Howdy, Avi S. Smile for your mom and dad.


Roger, Haifa. The Ema has landed.
These guys look all Top Gun now, don't they?

There is simply nothing as sweet as benship*.
We all discussed post-experience how we felt. What were you feeling when you jumped out of the plane? Which did you like better: the free-fall or floating under the open parachute? (I couldn't decide. Like steak and red wine, each has its contribution to the total adventure.) Were you scared? How did you handle the moment the chute opened? Would you do it again? (If money were no object, a few of us at least would have gotten back in line.) "I think I'm seeing the fifteen-year-old mom," said Dani, with a grin.

None of us could stop smiling (except for the few moments during which we composed the #toocoolforwords gangsta post-flight photo). I'm still grinning.

#thugflight


You can do a lot of things on your 61st birthday.


You can hang out with your best friend.

You can paint your nails red. (I recommend it.)









You can also go skydiving. Now I need to go 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu...


With the best friend, best ground crew, best cheerleader God ever created, puh-puh-puh. (Caryn and Inbar, take note: your earrings, your necklace. Ruti's tee shirt courtesy of the Paratroopers branch of the IDF.)

*Benship - a Ruti-generated word for that unique and special relationship you can only have with your adult children

Moms - not a typo. One of my frighteningly large array of nicknames.

The title (to those for whom it isn't apparent) is a mashup of  Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (from 1859) and Tim McGraw's song released in 2004, just to display the broad palette of inspiration out there in history.

24 comments:

  1. Ruti, happy sun birthday. Looks and sounds like you enjoyed a wonderful time. Did you jump without an instructor, all by yourself? WOW, kol hakavod. Enjoy many more years together with "your best friend" and the rest of your family, all in good health. Sara

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    1. Thank you for the brachot, dear lady. AMEN!!! No, this was my first time jumping from a plane. As my paratrooper sons know, it takes a lot of practice to do this by yourself. But it was still a wonderful experience, even though someone else was in charge. Well... Someone Else always is, right? ;-)

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  2. Fantastic! And very the account is so beautifully written. Keep surprising us all!

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    1. Thank you, my friend. From you, this is high praise -- and a wonderful bracha!

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  3. Wow, no adequate words. You are one brave lady! Great way to celebrate your birthday.

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    1. Ah, you are kind. The brave are those bright enough to see danger, and still face it. I just love a good adventure. It was a very awe-inspiring way to celebrate, that is for sure!

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  4. Dear World, this is my amazing friend Ruti. There ain't nuttin' she can't do.

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    1. You sure know how to make a gal feel special, dear one. Looking forward to seeing your face in person! BTW: Math. Math is something she can't do. Just sayin'. That's one of the many reasons she hangs out with the Dearly Beloved.

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  5. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! I once saw a young amputee skiing using a special ski chair and his poles were like outriggers with tiny skis on the bottom. On the back of his chair was stenciled, "DIE LIVING".

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    1. I love that! See? This guy gets it. It reminds me of the Japanese kōan about the man who only understands what living is when he realizes that he is already dead. We only have one life (at least in this incarnation), right? Snows get this better than most. We simply must live life to its fullest while we are here.

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  6. Ruti, you're some tough daring lady.

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    1. Hah. Perspective is everything. I think you, my chalutza heroine, are the tough and daring one. You simply must write that inspirational memoir.

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  7. loved this one! And I noticed the nails this evening. So fun!!

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    1. Too fun, right?! You can get away with so much when you're over 50...

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  8. You are truly the coolest, mama! What a creative, life-affirming way to celebrate your birth--by tossing fear to the wind! Your thugshot was a hoot, too! Happy YOU!

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    1. Since you know some of those lads, I thought you might enjoy it. :-D It was a very awe-inspiring way to celebrate the day of birth: gazing from the heavens at the beauty God hath wrought! And trust is strong enough to block even a hint of fear.

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  9. Wow!!! I probably would be along side of Avi as a member of the ground crew but so glad you had such a fun day.

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    1. He would have loved your company, my friend. You are a person who knows how to enjoy the moment!

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  10. What an experience and I love the way you wrote about it here, photos and all. Happy, happy birthday beautiful Ruti. You bring so much light to this world. Shine on, holy woman!!!!

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    1. Thank YOU, dear friend! I am still benefiting from your wonderful seminar, especially the guided meditation. Stay tuned for characters... ;-)

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  11. Way, way, way cool! Something I've always wanted to do. Hmmm... next visit?

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    1. Definitely a worthwhile adventure, my friend. I'd say that if it's on your bucket list, Paradive is a great place to take it from list to life!

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