When asked, "Why would you do such a thing?" she said, "I always wanted to do it." However, when she announced she planned to jump out of a plane on her birthday this past Christmas, that was the first I had heard about it. Her daredevil desire to plunge to the earth at 120 miles-per-hour from 2.5 miles in the air for a minute and then hang from a nylon parachute harnessed to a man half her age had somehow come alive late in life.
My mother is not a risk taker. She's a great-grandmother who teaches Sunday School each week and hosts a book club once a month. Her big adventure each week is driving to Palestine from her farm in Grapeland for groceries. She helped my Dad with the cows and projects on the farm up until about two years ago and they traveled in an RV around the USA for a while, but that was about it. She never showed signs of this kind of behavior.
But when jump day came, she acted like a kid going to the circus for the first time, and when she landed she jumped up and down and giggled like my girls when they got off the Mad Tea Party ride at Disney World for the first time. She was giddy like I had never seen her. My mother had jumped out of an airplane and landed safely. Check one off her bucket list.
She told me there was a deep faith component to her jump, too. She said she had to make sure it was okay with her husband of over 50 years. Check. Then, she said, she had to make sure God was in agreement with this adventure. She told me she prayed and listened like she had for few other things. And, when the day came, she was so free from worry she described the experience as, "...the most fun I have ever had!"
That's a lesson we all can learn: if you think you want to do something, and you make sure you have the support of loved ones and God has given you a peace about your decision at the time to act on it, then maybe all we need to do is jump and trust like my mother did on Saturday. Freedom from worry alone would make your choice a grand adventure.
P.S. She has a pacemaker, too. So, if you want to do something--check with your doctor, family, and God--then do it! No excuses. An 80-year-old lady jumped out of a plane and loved it. Now, get on with what you want to do.
If you want to email her and congratulate her, you can email her here.
I have posted my video of her landing on my facebook page.
You can see her official video by clicking on her name, Jean Wilkes, on the Skydive Dallas website.