Family is one of the greatest gifts that God gives us. We all come into the world as part of a birth family. For some this is great! For some this is good! For some it is not good at all. If we get married we add more people to our family. When I married into the Zimmerman family I was blessed with the addition of some of the most amazing people in the world. Like me, they are not perfect but they are amazing none the less. They have encouraged me to grow in ways I never thought I could and for the last nearly 10 years I have done just that. A lot of the inspiration has come from one powerfully, strong lady, Eileen Zimmerman the matriarch of the family. She has taught me much about life and love. She has done this with words but even more in example. I am truly blessed to call her my mother-in-law. She will be turning 70 in October. To celebrate her birthday she decided to go skydiving. Yes, she is that strong. This would not be her first skydive however, she had done that 26 years ago. When I asked her what the inspiration was for the first skydive she said she had recently lost her husband and realized that life could be short and you should do the things you have always wanted to do. Besides turning 70, she also chose to jump on the day before what would have been the 50th wedding anniversary of she and her husband, John.
The family decided that many of them would join her in the jump and it would become a great celebration. 14 people in all planned to jump that day. Many more come in support.I was so excited to be considered part of the jump crowd. You see I will be turning 50 in October. I had planned for months for the jump. I am usually not a fan of heights. I don’t really like level five thrill rides and I really don’t like climbing on a ladder to change a light bulb. I was sure however, that I could do this one thing. I visualized myself jumping out the plane and landing on the ground. Yes, I could do this. Hey you only live once. So off to the Forest Lake airport we went. My husband, son Levon, and daughter-in-law Jessica were going to jump with me. We went through the mandatory pre-jump training and signed up in for our turn to jump. Of the 14 we were originally scheduled to be the last ones to jump. After watching several people jump, we asked Levon and Jessica if they could go last and let us jump earlier. They happily agreed. So when it was our turn, we were fitted with our harnesses and given some additional instructions. We were then crammed into a tiny little plane. There was barely enough room for the five of us (Steven, me our two tandem masters and the pilot) We took the 20 minute ride to an altitude of 10,000 feet. I was scheduled to jump first. Steven would then leave the plane a minute or so after me. Since some of you may not have jumped before, I will give you a short rundown of how it works. You sit on your knees with the tandem master VERY close behind you. He connects his harness (the one with the parachute) to your harness. The door to the plane opens and he steps out onto a tiny little step with his right foot. You then step out with your right foot you begin to turn your body outside the plane with only your knee left holding you in the plane. Then you hear 1…2…3 and voila you are skydiving. Super simple……well, maybe not. I followed the instructions just like was told. Right foot out, check. Lean of the plane, check. Hear 1, 2, check. Lean out the plan with only my left knee holding me in the plane, check. What happened next was not planned. The tandem master said one, two and it was followed by “I CAN”T DO THIS!!!!!!” Stunned, Ryan, the tandem master didn’t know what to do. To say the look on his face was that of shock would be the understatement of the century. My hand reached for the handle on the doorframe and the next 30 seconds or so was sort of a blur. In an effort to not stall the plane and kill us all, both tandem masters (mine and Steven’s) grabbed me and closed the door and yelled to pilot to circle around. When you look out of the plane and can barely see the ground and the wind is passing by your face at roughly 120 miles per hour (okay the speed is a guess) a girl can get a little nervous. I was unhooked from Ryan’s harness and managed to scoot myself to the other side of the TINY little plane. Steven and DJ his tandem master changed places with Ryan and I, and prepared for Steven’s jump. I was re-hooked to Ryan for safety. Yes, I had visions of the people being sucked out of the plane when a hole was blown in it by a bomb. They opened the door and off went Steven. He thought it was wonderful by the way. Ryan and I joined the pilot for a nice, gentle ride back to earth. This of course, was not how I planned to end the skydive but hey at nearly 50 you can make your own decisions even if they are at the last minute. Believe you me I had a 20 minute flight back to the airport full of thoughts of what will everyone think, what will I say to all the people at work (most of them 20-30 something dudes who already give me a hard time about being old). Well, to them I will say “There’s no shame in my game.” I did something a lot of people will never do. I lived to tell about it and I followed my own heart. Was there a lesson to be learned from this? Yes, indeed. Life is an adventure and you just have to try things even if they don’t turn out like you plan. Don’t be afraid to fail. Go have some fun.