The Home · The Soul

Il Mio Nonno

My grandfather was an airplane mechanic. The best period of his life was when he was in London during World War II, repairing planes for the Army. He was with the Army’s Eighth Air Force, which became the USAF later on.

He loved planes. And rockets.

On our mantel is the flag that draped his coffin when he died many years later – folded up and in a frame. Bernardo calls him “Nonno”, which is Italian for “Grandpa”. We talk to him, and sometimes move him around.

My dad was studying to be an aeronautical engineer when the call came to go into ministry. But he never lost his infatuation with planes.

And rockets.

My brother is now a chip designer for Oracle – but when he was little, he could identify planes as they flew overhead. As his older sister, it appalled me that this little kid had mysterious knowledge about planes that seemed to spring forth fully-articulated.

Don’t even get him started on rockets.

I never (consciously) went on a plane until my honeymoon in 1989, but since then of course I have been on them as much as any business traveler. Which is to say, I have come to regard planes as flying buses. Still, there’s something compelling and mythological about air travel that seems to be in my veins. When I commuted to Huntsville for my job at Sirsi, I stayed in the Marriott next to Space Camp, which had a shuttle out front.

Today I’m going up to the big hill nearby to catch a glimpse of the Enterprise piggy-backing on the jerry-rigged 747 as it flies by New York City. My debate: should I take Nonno?

Probably not. I’ll just tell him about it later.

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