Fifty-one times. That’s the number of bullets my Dad’s helicopter took during a single mission in Vietnam. He was so proud of landing safely following the battle. The photo of his commendation is a treasured memory. Remarkably, he was never injured during the height of conflict in 1967 and 1970. He was prouder still of never injuring a U.S. soldier with friendly fire.
Dad was in his late 30s and an officer in the 1st Air Calvary with a wife and three children at home. I’m the one on the left, the oldest girl. I inherited his quick thinking, nose, and so much more.
He was Carl to my Karla.
He survived Vietnam but not aging, finally falling and breaking his right shoulder at 85. He recalled moving his head more quickly than his body. (Note to self: Try not to do that.) That fall was his first major injury.
He taught himself to be left-handed, marshalling his capabilities to regain mobility and independence. It gave him something to do instead of missing my Mom, Phyllis, his love for almost 61 years. “You are my hero,” my Mom had said to my Dad before she passed in 2014.
Alzheimer’s came for Carl. The silent killer had been at work accompanied by depression. If you know of loved ones who’ve had dementia or Alzheimer’s, you’re familiar with the challenge of trying to anticipate decline, wondering what might go next. “I didn’t sign up for this,” I must admit I groused more than once. Then finally, the realization dawned on me.
I could be Dad’s hero. And he needed one. So I stepped up as best I could to conquer his foes. Bullets were replaced by inept senior care and poor management. The cavalry was the Colorado State Ombudsman’s Office. Still I returned, joined by my brother on his many trips to Denver and countless phone calls. Dad was always proud that I’d done something he hadn’t done, owned my own business. He noted that several times before he passed in January 2019.
Fast forward to 2020. None of us anticipated that we would be living during one of the most profound eras of modern human history. We are smack dab in the middle of history. First COVID-19, then an economic crisis, and now social upheaval. Calls for social justice and an end to 400 years of conflict. Black lives matter.
Until last week, I’d been guided by the feeling that I could make a significant contribution this year through Differentiation Zone. That 2020 might be my “finest hour” as Winston Churchill declared during World War II and Flight Director Gene Kratz proclaimed when Apollo 13 was in crisis. So, I sprinted to create your Bounce-Back Plan and offer free coaching. My instincts told me that change required something more. I was ready.
I felt both the opportunity and an obligation to rise to the occasion and offer something of unique value. I’ve been on a decades-long quest to use my talents in service to others, investing in myself while honoring my parents.
What if the opportunity is even greater than I’d imagined?
What if we could, together, bend the arc of history just a bit towards the light of justice and opportunity for all? Former President Jimmy Carter commented that the work to end systemic racism and anti-Black culture in our country is something he committed to do 50 years ago.
What if we are the heroes we need now?
If we want to bend that arc just a bit for the greater good, we need to commit to inclusion in our Bounce-Back Plans. Bring your equity lens and truly commit. There’s never been a more perfect time. We must dig deeper.
I stand at your service with my skills, talents, and passion.
Let’s get to work.
The next normal is calling.
Love Wore Green Shorts.
Mixed media by Karla Raines
Inspired by the story of the first time her dad saw her mom.