50 Years Later: To the Memory of Flight 705

1946_HeilJackSanFranTo live in this world you must be able to do three things

To love what is mortal

To hold it against your bones, knowing your own life depends on it;

And, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go

-Mary Oliver

It happened on Tuesday, February 12, 1963. For decades we have marked that day. Now, suddenly, it is Tuesday, February 12, 2013. The same day of the week. Suddenly, a half-century has gone by.

Fifty years. Your six children who ranged between one and fifteen the day you went to the other side, grew up and became adults. Today we are all older now, by twelve years and more, than you lived to be. Our mother who was with you in Florida that weekend so long ago, and who by chance came home at the last minute separately from you, is still with us and we are all graced by her presence.

As people do as they move forward in life, we choose different paths to get where we all are today, we took roads less traveled. We traveled over much of this planet. Learned. Married. We all still live in the state you and Mom moved us to in 1957. We had children of our own, most now adults in their own right. Today you have eleven grandchildren who never met you but know your story well. In 2010 you became a great-grandfather, twice, in the space of one month–two beautiful boys who live close by each other, are great friends, love trucks–and, a year later, a third great-grandchild, a little girl with a smile that knows no bounds. You would have enjoyed bouncing them on your knees, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, all.

Time is a funny thing. The long span of five decades collapses in an instant when the memories of your departure come back. And then, the sharp intensity of that loss eases when I take the time to consciously let it go, and choose, instead, to be grateful for the fact that you brought me into this world, to remember how the paths you chose in your life shaped mine.

I remember you reaching down for me at the ocean that summer day so long ago, when you swung me up from the wet beach, laughing, shrieking, as I went into the air with dripping feet and came down to land solidly on your shoulders. I remember sitting next to you as you drove across South Dakota that last summer in 1962, me having the privileged seat next to Dad (a tough spot to land with six of us kids), eye-level with the green lights of the radio. You wearing your white baseball cap with the red Mobile Gas “Flying Horse” logo, telling me what those tall blinking towers were that marched across the wide night sky of the Midwestern plains as we got closer to Yankton, offering me a stick of Juicy-Fruit gum.

In 1998, when in Washington D. C. with your granddaughter, Sarah, we walked across a balcony in the Library of Congress. I chanced to look up and see these words engraved high on the wall: “Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.” That phrase has such grace, enabling me to hold closely what matters most, no pens, paper or archive needed. It is a welcome buffer against what was lost that day.

You are firm in memory and the stories I have told my children. I will tell them to my grandson as well. From the Coast Guard adventures you had round the world, to meeting my mother at a Yankton High School football game, to the tale of your first camping trip in Washington State, when you ate crab on Ediz Hook, and slept  in a cold canvas tent at the ocean, shivering in thin pajamas instead of the prerequisite hooded sweatshirt and pants that we all grew up knowing was the true and proper Northwest camping attire. Here’s to your memory and your place in our family Dad. You are missed. Remembered. Celebrated this week. Thank you for the start you gave us.

Easter_AnemonesInGarden

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12 Responses to 50 Years Later: To the Memory of Flight 705

  1. Kathy Feller Summers says:

    Thank you for such wonderful words. I had trouble reading through the tears. My Dad was one of the pilots on the flight and even though its been 50 years,I miss him and what we should have had with him in our lives. Hold on to the memories, they are beautiful.
    Kathy Feller Summers

    • T.L. Heil says:

      Kathy,

      Thank you so much for writing. I sit here tonight in close mindfulness about what this evening meant to many families fifty years ago. A Monday night when there was no worry about where their dear ones were, no uncertainty about if they’d be coming home.

      You and I are connected to all those who lost loved ones 50 years ago tomorrow, in fact, to all those who suffer sudden loss. Though many mourn in isolation tonight, or remember in solidarity with family and friends, or wonder why, or wish things had turned out differently, or maybe, maybe, found this website and realize they’re not alone, we’re all bound by this common thread. Here’s to the memories of your dear dad and I hope they bring you comfort and peace. Take good care.

      • Kathy Feller Summers says:

        Thanks Theresa, for starting this and helping us connect with our memories. Hope you are sharing today with loved ones and remembering your Dad

      • T.L. Heil says:

        Thanks Kathy. Just home from a long day in Seattle. Spent it with my husband, daughter, and grandson. We ended our time together at my dad’s gravesite where my 2 1/2 year old grandson helped me place flowers. Poignant. And hard. But then, the dear boy decided that orange flowers were needed. He suddenly pointed, and then went running to a distant gravesite to “borrow” orange flowers to bring back to my dad’s place of rest. After a gentle period of negotiation, he was persuaded that the cedar and flowers we’d brought were enough. The laughter lightened the sadness. I hope you had a good day with your loved ones and shared treasured memories of your dad as well. We know he did the best he could that day under the most difficult of circumstances. Here’s to him, and all the others, their families, their descendants. You’re in our thoughts. Take care.

  2. Emma Fox says:

    Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing these thoughts; I was never able to meet my Grandpa, but I enjoy knowing him through your memories.

    • T.L. Heil says:

      Thank you Em. As you know, you’re named for your Grandpa Jack’s mom, Emma Quartier Heil. And your Grandpa Jack is so proud of you Skitch. He’s especially rooting for your this day and inspired the balloon on the door.

      Love you, mom

  3. Sharon Mangas says:

    Such poignant words. You may remember that I posted on this blog several months ago, mentioning how my father (who died in a tragic car accident in 1955) had a connection to Flight 705, as his boss, Joe Cain, President of P.R. Mallory, perished in the crash. I thought you might like to know how your blog is reaching out to touch others. On New Years Day this year, I received a call from a gentleman from Michigan whose father had worked for my dad at Mallory’s. He had seen my comments on this blog. He just wanted me to know how much my father had meant to his dad (now deceased), and that his 92 year old mother still remembered what a fine man my father was. I was only 4 years old when my father died, so hearing something about his character from someone ‘out of the blue,’ was very touching and meaningful. My thoughts and prayers are with all the family members of those who perished in Flight 705 as you mark 50 years without your loved ones.

    • T.L. Heil says:

      I very much remember you Sharon. How nice that you heard from one of your dad’s former employees and that the blog was the vehicle for that connection. I’m so glad that he got in touch with you and that you were able to learn something more about your dad and what a fine person he was. That’s really great. I actually connected with the P. R. Mallory company to see if there were any relatives left of Joseph Cain in the area. They didn’t know of any but gave me contact information for someone who was supposedly compiling a history of the company and might know more. I tried getting in touch with that person but never heard back.

      Thanks for taking the time to write again. All the best to you Sharon.

      • Richard milock says:

        Julie I would love to talk to you to you Richard Milock phone number 231-377-6005 E mail D milock@mi.net It has been at least 50 years since we last talked.hope to hear from Richard

  4. Sharon Mangas says:

    I also tried to do a search for family members of Mr. Cain, though not through Mallory connections. It seems like the Cain family has vanished, or at least no family members reside in Indiana any longer. I remember my mother talking about Mr. Cain’s wife, calling her “Hernie,” (which must’ve been short for something else). Perhaps they didn’t have any children. Too bad the person compiling the company history didn’t get back with you. That would be interesting.

  5. juliet cain roberts indpls, in says:

    to TJ Heil & Sharon. My name is Julie Roberts and Joe Cain was my father. I’m blown away by your words and memories. Sharon, what was your maiden name. I hope I knew your Dad. I would love connecting with you both. Julie

    • T.L. Heil says:

      Julie, welcome to the 705 community. I will be happy to put you in touch with Sharon who had some wonderful memories about your dad’s kindness to her family. So glad you found the site. Here’s to the memory of your dad.

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