Aviation for Women

MAR-APR 2018

Aviation for Women is the flagship member publication of Women in Aviation International. Articles feature women who have made aviation history, professional development ideas, and current-topic articles.

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80 AviationforWomen M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 A Father-Daughter Relationship L I N D A B E R L I N I always called him George. It wasn't a typical father-daughter relationship. He never lived in our house as I grew up. He wasn't my bio- logical father. George came into my life when I was 1 year old. I was the youngest of four chil- dren. My parents had separated before I was born, so I've always thought of George as my dad. George ran a successful radio broadcasting company in downtown Chicago. Mom worked for the local park district in Wilmette, Illinois. She and George dated on the weekends. When- ever they kissed goodbye, I would wedge my- self bet ween them, hugging George's knees, not wanting him to go. He would pick me up, hold me tight, and the three of us became one. It was heaven. On my 10th birthday, he gave me a piano. I have played that same piano ever since. As a teenager, I wanted to be a professional pianist, but I practiced so much that I injured my hand. I had to drop out of music school. It was George who gave me a pep talk that would forever in- fluence my approach to life's disappointments. He said I could do anything with my life. My in- jured hand was merely an opportunity to grow in a new direction. He encouraged me to return to college but change majors. Within months, I was taking Russian litera- ture from a world-renowned scholar at North- western Universit y and hosting a ja zz radio show at W NUR. W hen I marched in the May Day parade with students from my class, George cheered me on. He lo ve d t o t r avel, s o he would bring our family along. Some- times, we joined him on business trips to San Francisco, where he owned a radio sta- tion. I always vowed to live in San Fran- c i s c o wh e n I g re w u p . W h i l e a t t e n d - in g Nor t hwe ster n, I asked him if we could look at colleges in San Francisco, and he agreed. With his help, I trans- ferred to San Francisco State University, majored in journalism, and graduated three years later. George never tried to talk me out of a career in journalism. He believed in me. It was a powerful thing to have someone like him believing in me. His confidence rubbed off on me. George and my mom finally did get married, 30 years after they met. It was the best party I've ever attended. George sold his business, and he and Mom traveled the world. As their marriage bloomed, my own marriage fell apart. I had fallen in love with flying when I was a reporter for a wire ser vice in San Francisco during a Bay tour with a flight instructor. The publisher refused to run the story and called me at home admonishing me to never get in a lit- tle airplane again. Some 10 years later, I decided to start flying airplanes to feel better about my- self after my divorce. I could leave my mistakes on the ground. It was truly cathartic. It was nev- er my intention to make a career of flying, but I liked it so much that I continued to get ratings. Eventually, it just made sense to switch careers. I remembered George's advice from years earlier: Pick yourself up and move forward, no matter what. And so I did. George died five days before Father's Day this past summer. It hasn't been easy to let him go. We were close. Just two weeks before he died, I wrapped my arms around him from behind his wheelchair, and told him I loved him. He tender- ly lifted his hand to my arm and whispered, "I love you too." My main regret is that I never took him fly- ing. When I bring it up to my co-workers, many of them have similar regrets. We get so swept up in pursuit of our next job or upgrade or type rat- ing that we forget how special it is to simply fly. Sharing that passion with a loved one is the sin- gle most unique gift we can give. By the time I got hired at a major airline, George couldn't travel anymore. After he died, I wrote several short stories to cope with the loss. In my favorite one, George is taking flight: "The man was already gone from his body, soaring around the room, chasing the white light, be- coming it. And he smiled, kissed her goodbye, and was gone from this world." ✈ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Linda Berlin, WA I 10243, has published fea- ture stories in a variety of national newspapers and magazines. She flies for a major airline and writes fiction on her overnights. We get so swept up in pursuit of our next job or upgrade or type rating that we forget how special it is to simply fly. Sharing that passion with a loved one is the single most unique gift we can give. I N O U R O W N W O R D S My mom, Sharon, and George share a kiss in the Bahamas.

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