My husband Ron passed his final exams to receive his helicopter certified flight instructor license this afternoon.
It’s been a long time coming. In late 2005, our dear friend Mike Welch, who had survived life as a police officer in south L.A., as a Marine, and as a security guard for U.S. contractors in the Balkans and in Iraq, returned home to the U.S. to finally enjoy the quiet life — and died of a heart attack only weeks after arriving. He was 48 years old.
Ron, who had loved Mike as a brother, was heartbroken. And we both realized how short life can be.
Ron was in the middle of working a desk job he hated, in order to help support the family. I had just left my Fortune 500 job to start my own business and spend more time with my kids. While Ron worked hard and was very successful at work, I could see the spirit draining out of him every day he returned home after dark, tired and more frustrated than the night before.
And then Mike died.
And we decided that Ron needed to pursue the one dream he’d held in his heart since he was 8 years old — to fly helicopters.
It wasn’t going to be easy. Our research suggested it would take nearly two years, full-time, and cost more money than we had any chance of saving up. People thought we were crazy, and said so.
But we did it anyway, thanks to a home equity loan, Sallie Mae, and some very supportive families behind us.
And then the recession hit. And I was laid off. And his school became more and more strapped and time with instructors became harder and harder to come by. Nearly four years later and he was still “almost done”.
Finally, he left for Texas to work with a school that could get him through his program. We anticipated he might be gone for a month or more.
And now, he’s done.
Of course, he still hopes to find work as an instructor. And we’re hoping it won’t require him to leave us for long stretches at a time to work in another state.
But he’s done. And he’s happy. And despite the ups and downs, the stress and frustrations, nearly 20 years after our wedding we’re still going strong.
I know people think we’re crazy to have done this. I know people think I’m nuts to be building my own business again, when my husband’s unemployed.
But I don’t care. We believed. Continue to believe. It can happen.
It can happen for you, too.