Tired of buying the usual perfume bottle, purse, spa gift certificate or other stereotypical woman’s gift, I decided to make my mother’s 60th birthday more interesting by taking her tandem sky diving at Desert Skydiving Center in Buckeye.
When I told people I was taking her skydiving they thought it was the coolest thing ever—and the craziest. My dad was particularly concerned about it because of her prior medical history (she used to suffer from high blood pressure), but as she got older she adopted a healthier lifestyle and lost weigh so oddly enough, 60 was the most appropriate age for her to start living on the edge, or off of it.
So I decided to take my first leap with my mom by my side. Whenever I had ridden a roller coaster in the past, I cried for my mommy so jumping out of an airplane at 11,000 feet would warrant something more, i.e. her physically there holding my hand.
Unfortunately things didn’t work out quite that way. The plane wasn’t big enough for my mom and I to jump at the same time so I had to “let” her go first. She was, of course, more than thrilled with not the slightest hint of fear.
Our reservation was at 11:30 a.m., not 10:30 a.m. as we thought. By the time our paperwork stating that we might die and if so our family won’t sue – all that boring stuff – was filled out and we were in full gear, it was past noon and well into the 100 degrees already.
My mom and I don’t do hot weather. When I say, “don’t do,” I mean we become highly irritable mainly because of the small pools of sweat we each create on our upper lips, which is NOT attractive.
That might be why we were too preoccupied complaining about the heat to think about the fact that we were about to throw ourselves from a plane two miles in the air entrusting our lives to strangers for nothing more than a quick thrill.
When we were told the temperature was much cooler in the air, my mom and I nearly had a wrestling match to see who would go first. But alas, being that I’m such a good daughter I stepped down and watched my all too happy mother fly off into the air with four men, who by the way didn’t speak a lick of Spanish—my mom’s primary language.
I hadn’t considered the language barrier until the moment before I waived her off when one of the jumpers asked me how to say “no” in Spanish. That was scary.
Twenty minutes later the cameraman fell from the sky as I saw my mom in the distance, only it wasn’t her. It was the man who asked for the “no” translation.
I just about had a heart attack wondering where my mother was until I was told she was coming and Mr. “No” had just hitched a ride on the plane.
Finally I saw my mother approaching and I heard the instructor yelling “put your feet up” to my mother who unfortunately was not able to and scraped the dirt with her knees and stomach. But she’s a trooper; she dusted herself off and smiled for the camera. Later she said the circulation in her legs was weak because of the leg straps.
Five water bottles and an equal amount of trips to the restroom later it was my turn and still, the nerves hadn’t kicked in. It had only gotten hotter so the heat was the only thing I feared at that moment.
I calmly got into the plane and enjoyed the ride and then something weird happened. It wasn’t hot anymore. I then realized what I was about to do. As the door swung open and the air flew in and out of the plane I had definitely forgotten about the heat and the fear kicked in full force.
I first stuck my foot out, which was rather difficult because of the wind’s force, I then held on to the plane only for a few seconds for fear that I would not let go.
As we dove into the air there was no crying for mommy. The only thing I could utter was “Oh my God.” But there was no fear at that moment. It was surprisingly calm and peaceful. I just enjoyed the free fall, which felt like a lot longer than the five to seven minutes promised.
My legs and arms began to feel numb so I told the instructor because I surely didn’t want to take a belly dive like my mom did. When he loosened it I feared he would do it too much and I would fall off so I held my shoulder straps for dear life, literally.
As we approached the ground, I lifted my feet up and pretty much had a textbook landing, thanks to mom. If anyone ever said you’ve never taught me anything, they certainly can’t say that now.
The initial jump was the best moment of it all. Going from a quiet ride up to the sudden burst of noise from the propeller and the wind, not to mention the fear, gave me such an intense adrenaline rush. I’m glad I was a “little” scared. And it was nice to have mom there as well.