Mom anxiously rifled through the literature in the seat pocket and finally found what she was looking for. Before the other passengers had finished boarding the plane, she had completely read the emergency procedures. About the time most people were settling into their seats, she shot up out of hers. My sister, Kelly, and I looked up, a bit startled.
“What’s wrong?” Kelly asked.
“I just wanted to see how to remove the seat cushion in case I need a flotation device.”
“Mom,” we groaned, “sit down. You won’t need a flotation device.”
“You don’t know that,” scolded Mom.
“Well, it’s highly unlikely,” I conceded.
“There’s nothing but ocean between Seattle and Honolulu,” Mom reminded us.
The three of us were flying to Honolulu to meet my dad and brother, who were returning from an overseas trip. Mom sat down and put her head between her knees.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Are you sick?”
“No, I’m looking to see if there is a life preserver under my seat.”
“Mom, sit up and fasten your seat belt,” Kelly said. “Just relax and enjoy the flight. Nothing is going to happen.”
“Well, maybe I should wear my life preserver, just in case.”
“Mom, you don’t need to wear your life preserver,” I assured her.
“But I can’t swim,” she protested. “Maybe I should hold it on my lap so it’s ready if I need it.”
“You won’t need it,” Kelly and I chimed in unison.
“But I should probably get it out and study it so I know how to use it,” Mom persisted. Then a startled look came over her face as she exclaimed, “Oh my, we’re moving!”
“Yeah, you might want to pay attention while the flight attendant goes over the safety information,” I said with a grin.
“Oh, where did I put that card with the emergency procedures?” Mom began rifling through the literature pocket again. Then she searched the pockets in front of our seats.
“Look,” Mom exclaimed, “Kelly doesn’t have an emergency card. She won’t know what to do in case of emergency.”
“The flight attendant is going to tell us all the same information,” Kelly said. “And it’s not like there’s going to be an exam.”
“There will be if we crash,” Mom chided.
Just then, the flight attendant began the obligatory safety review. While most of the passengers barely listened, Mom was alert and attentive. At one point, she raised up in her seat a bit to see the demonstration, and for a moment I wondered if she was going to stand up to ask a question.
“Christy, that man next to the emergency hatch wasn’t even paying attention.”
“What do you want me to do, give him an exam?”
“Well, maybe the airlines should give everyone an exam. Our lives depend on whether he knows what to do.”
The plane had taxied to the end of the runway, so I thought I should warn Mom: “Okay, we’re getting ready to take off.”
“Oh, good. This is my favorite part,” she said, looking excited for the first time.
“Really? It always makes me kind of queasy,” I admitted.
“Then you might need this,” she said matter-of-factly, as she reached into the literature pocket and handed me the “sick” back.
“Hopefully not. I’m usually okay if I point the air vent at my face and turn it on high.”
As I adjusted my vent accordingly, she turned on her vent and pointed it at me, too.
“You know, that reminds me,” Mom said. “How do I know if the air bag and oxygen mask are going to work properly? Don’t you think we should test them?”
“I’m sure they’ve been tested,” Kelly said.
Mom thought for a moment, then asked, “Are you willing to bet your life on it, Kelly? It was probably tested by the same person who failed to put an emergency procedures card in your literature pocket.”
The plane was finally in the air, but I knew it was going to be a long flight, and not just in distance. But when we arrived in Honolulu and met my dad and brother, Mom told them she had a great flight. My sister and I shot each other bewildered looks. Go figure.
Now that Mom and Dad are retired, she’s trying to talk Dad into taking her on an Alaskan cruise. I’ve pressed her a bit. “Are you sure you want to spend 10 days on a ship? You were nervous just flying over the ocean for a few hours.”
“Well, I could wear my life preserver.”
For Your In-Flight Entertainment . . .