It was May 1988. I was living in Ohio and traveled home to Kentucky to visit my Mom, Dad, and fiancé, Pam, every time I could get a couple of days off. On this particular trip, I purchased something I saw first on a lakeshore in Ohio – stunt kites. My purchase was a set of three Tilby stunt kites – a Tilby Trilogy. Each kite in this set carried the traditional diamond shape. With a normal kite, you attach a ball of string, launch the kite and let it climb into the air while you hold the ball of string releasing it little by little as the kite climbs. A kite like this will dance and wave in the air a little, but not much.
A stunt kite on the other hands will do much more. It has two lines attached to the front of the first kite. In this case, I had purchased a trilogy or three kites you would fly stacked together. Three kites in a row, one in front of the other about 2 feet apart. Each kite had a different color striped pattern and each had a 50 foot tail of the main color of the kite to which it was attached. Using the two lines (strings) you could get the kite in the air and do tricks and spins, dives and climbs. Whereas a traditional kite stays pretty stationary, a stunt kite will fly all across the skies. By pulling on the left cord you can drive the kite to the left in a strong driving force, then quickly spin it to drive the opposite direction. Starting at 75 feet in the air you can pull one cord and cause the kite(s) to dive straight towards the ground or dive in a series of tight circles. Then reversing your hand position have it climb back in a similar circular fashion.
I had fun with those kites over the years as they moved with us in Ohio, to Georgia, and onto California before I sold them to another would-be enthusiast. But, by far, my greatest memory with those kites was the day I bought them. I sat in the living room floor of my parent’s house and put them together. Though I did not do it alone. My father, a heart patient, got down in the floor with me, just like when I was a child, we worked on the kites together. Helping one another, laughing and talking as we worked.
Of course, as soon as they were assembled, I wanted to try them out. I asked my father to go with me. But he was too tired, wore out. It was the last thing my father and I would do together. He passed away to his eternal glory two weeks later. It has been 31 years since his passing, I was 31 years old, and yet, I have never forgotten the look on his face and the joy of putting those kites together in the floor; a father and his son.
These are some of my thoughts as we recently celebrated Father’s Day. Cherish the times, cherish the memories. Cherish life.
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.