Air race, primary, role model

Friday, July 2, 2010

The 34th Annual All Female Air Race Classic finished in Maryland last Friday. Beverly Cleair of Cape Girardeau (who might be the best female pilot/instructor in Missouri) completed the 2,400-mile race along with 51 other pilot teams. Speed achieved by airplane horsepower handicaps was the criteria for winning. The four-day race started in Fort Myers, Fla.

The Blue Angels "plus" air show dominated recent news coverage in the Southeast Missourian of the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, along with an in-depth aviation series by reporter Melissa Miller based on the aviation time line generated by newspaper librarian Sharon Sanders. Here's another aviation tidbit.

Aviation enthusiast, pilot, writer and history lover Stan Crader (Crader Distributing Co.) reported on the man who taught Charles Lindbergh to fly. The instructor was from Patton, Mo., just about 30 miles west of Cape Girardeau on Highway 72.

It's time to focus on the upcoming primary, which is Aug. 3, just about five weeks away. This year the voters seem to be restless, as well they should be. We've already had a lot of candidate coverage with more to come.

One of my favorite role models, Coach John Wooden, died recently at the age of 99.

Rich Karlgaard, Forbes magazine publisher, made the following observation/comparison about Wooden and Ronald Reagan:

The parallels between Ronald Reagan and John Wooden are astonishing. They were born four months apart and within a few hundred miles of each other -- Wooden in Hall, Ind., in 1910, and Reagan in Tampico, Ill., in 1911. Both came into an America that still looked like Dorothy's Kansas. As boys, Wooden and Reagan watched their fathers fail during the great rural price deflation of the 1920s. For the Woodens the final blow was the collapse of the family pig farm. For the Reagans it was the father's alcoholism.

As young adults, Wooden and Reagan had to forge their own paths in the uncertain 1930s. Both somehow made it to college on dreams and athletic ability -- Wooden in basketball, Reagan in football. As adults, Wooden and Reagan made their names in California when California was the epitome of the American dream.

In death, Wooden and Reagan remain the exemplars of the 20th century American creed -- an exceptional vision of heavenly salvation and personal success.

Here's another curious fact. The optimistic philosophers of 20th century America lived fantastically long lives: Wooden (1910-2010) and Reagan (1911-2004), as well as Napoleon Hill (1883-1970), who wrote "Think and Grow Rich," and Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993), who wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking."

I'll miss these small-town men who shaped the optimistic American culture in the 20th century. In its own way their legacy to 21st century Americans is as important as that left by the Founding Fathers.

I've never been comfortable knowing what to say at a funeral (although lately I've been getting a lot of practice because of the age factor), but I found this article I picked up at Ford and Sons Funeral Homes helpful. I am sharing it with their permission.

Helping a Friend in Grief

Learn About the Grieving Process

What the bereaved often need from others during a time of grief is someone who will listen with compassion, talk about the deceased by name, acknowledge the pain they are in and offer their support. Educate yourself about the grieving process so that you can understand what your friend might be going through. Understand first that:

* Grief is unique for each person.

* The only way to "get over" grief is to face it.

* There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

* There is no set time when grief should end.

* Grief is not something anyone can fix.

* The pain of the loss will never completely go away.

What to Say and What Not to Say

Our words at this time can hurt or bring healing. Try to avoid these words that hurt:

"You can have another child" or "You will find someone else": Our loved ones are irreplaceable. To insinuate otherwise makes your friend feel that you don't understand. Instead: use the deceased's name and recall memories about the loved one if you knew him or her.

"I know how you feel. ... I lost my ... ": Avoid comparing your own grief to theirs. No one can really know how a grieving person feels. Instead: ask "How do you feel?" or "What was she like?" Often, the bereaved just want to talk about their memories with someone who will listen.

"You look well" or "You are so strong": These words put pressure on the bereaved to act a certain way and might make them feel reserved about sharing their emotions with you. Instead: ask, "How are you doing?" or "Is there anything you need? Is there anything I can do to help?"

"She's in a better place now" or "This was part of God's plan": Even for religious mourners, a time of loss can bring up feelings of doubt or anger toward God. Let the mourner deal with this issue in his or her own way. Instead: give your friend a hug, or simply say, "I'm so sorry this has happened" or "I'm praying for you."

Offer Your Support

Your help and support lets the bereaved know that he or she is not alone. Offer to run errands, pick up groceries, watch the children, do laundry or help with claim forms and bills. You can also show your support by acknowledging milestones, especially in the first year after the death. Bring flowers on the birthday of the deceased. Offer to help with preparations or baking during the holiday season, or send a card on the anniversary of the deceased's death. Find a way to show your friend that you care.

Excerpt from James Baughn's June 22 column on Missouri springs:

Big Spring is worth repeating for perspective. The granddaddy of them all, Big Spring lives up to its simple name. With an average flow of 276 million gallons per day, Big Spring is easily the largest spring in Missouri and is one of the largest in North America.

As a comparison, the BP oil spill has so far produced somewhere between 68 and 126 million gallons, according to estimates reported by the Associated Press on June 21. Even if it takes a couple more months to stop the oil leak, it's unlikely that the entire BP oil spill will produce as many gallons as Big Spring produces in one day. (Of course, it doesn't take much oil to create a serious mess.)

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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