Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Paul George Vaughan celebrating his 85th birthday
flying paper airplanes with grandson Paul

My dad would have been 96 years old today. He made it to 95 years and 4 weeks...never quite buying into my run-to-Michigan thing. He was having a hard time wrapping his mind around any reason why I might want to tackle such a venture and, even when he began to concede that maybe I had an itch to do something that might be ok for me though beyond his personal tastes, he, being such a direct and straightforward fellow, was decidedly frustrated by the roundabout route I would have to take. That's a fast-flying pilot for you (pop being a WWII pilot with a life-long love of flying).

Be that as it may, I am thoroughly convinced that he was with me the entire way. Running along the road, gazing at the horizon, the tumbleweeds, the rolling hills, the livestock, the clouds, the bizarre piece of machinery, the cannon rolling by, the whatever...and I could talk to my dad about it. "Did you see that?" "How about those clouds" "What the heck is that pop?" "Have you ever seen such a [fill in the blank]?" and "Hi Daddy" whenever a plane would fly overhead. Every day there was a "Thank you pop" for the gracious drivers, the calming rhythm of the run, the making it through another mile on my own two feet, and for the weather. The weather was one of the factors that most convinced me that my dad was with me during the run. I got so darned lucky with storm-free running - it got to the point that, if you wanted to locate where I was along the route, you would need only look at a weather map and find the 30-mile stretch that didn't have thunderstorms, tornadoes, or blistering heat. Spooky. Or pop and friends smiling down on me.

Given my extraordinary stretch of good luck, Kendall, too, was becoming convinced that pop was watching over me. The clincher was the day I ran into Michigan. Just as I headed for the state line, twelve WWII planes flew overhead in formation, circling above the entire time I was running over the bridge from Wisconsin to Michigan.

Thank you, pop, for the run of a lifetime.

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