John & Anne Wiley

2012/04/17

Farewell Friend

I’ve always loved waves, and we’ve been riding some of the emotional kind. We said a fond farewell to Anne’s father and my dear friend John F. Humphrey. We each held one of his hands as the life gently left his eyes, and I asked what he could see. “Colors,” he said. After a long pause, “A pilot,” he added. We aren’t sure whether the pilot had come to fly him away, but from what we could gather in his broken sentences it seemed so. Today we joined with some family in a celebration of his life, and for me especially his joy of flight. More family and friends will gather again in a few weeks, for more tears and laughter.

Joyful John

Joyful John

He was learning to fly before WWII in this pic, and the delight just shines from every pore. In case you missed it, he’s the guy who went on to earn the DFC for some exceptional courage and flying skill including the “Bouncing Betty” story. Not long after I met him, we took him to see this visiting B-24 very similar to theĀ PB4Y-1 he flew.

John At B-24

John At B-24

That light was still in him, especially when around (or better yet flying in) airplanes. A couple of years ago we flew him out to the Anza Borrego desert, and though he was reluctant I convinced him to take the controls for a few minutes while I consulted charts. I wish there were a way I could describe the change that came over him. Calm, alert, confident, in his element, and deeply content are words I could use. The essence was so strong though, that in such moments during our friendship I could clearly see the man in both of these pix. I love him, and miss him, more than all but a very few men I have known.

Clear skies and fair winds, precious friend and second father.

ps: we created a website in his honor at http://humco.wordpress.com/

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