I’ve devoted a lot of attention on Live and Let’s Fly to the late Queen Elizabeth II over the last week, but today want to dedicate this space to my own grandmother, Margaret, who recently passed and must be given great credit for my love of travel.
Thanksgiving For My Grandmother
Although her funeral date was set before the Queen passed away, today will mark not only the funeral service of EIIR but also of my dear grandma. As I look back on her life, I am grateful for her amazing generosity and sacrifice in giving so much of herself to her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
When I look back on my life and trace the path that led to today, I must give great credit to my grandmother for awakening in me a deep love of travel, that has transformed my life in ways that I could not have imagined.
Why am I so loyal to United Airlines? In part, it was because my grandmother took my brother and me on two trips using United Airlines. The first was to North Carolina in 1996. The Boeing 777 had just been delivered to United, the launch customer, and we were booked from Los Angeles (LAX) to Chicago (ORD) onboard the 777. I’ll never forget that flight, my first time on a widebody jet. Amazingly for me, there were seatback screens from which I watched Disney cartoons. I was also served a McDonald’s Happy Meal onboard. Can you imagine how thrilling that was for a nine-year-old?
It was nearly a decade later that we flew to North Dakota, where my grandmother had grown up on a farm with no running water or electricity, again on United Airlines. Our 6:00 am flight from LAX to Denver (DEN) was upgauged from a 757-200 to a three-cabin 767-300. I remember angling for an upgrade on the flight (and failing), but it was that flight that inspired me to start learning more about airline loyalty programs and credit card points.
Thus, without ever knowing it or intending it, my grandmother greatly shaped my interests and my work, an important reminder that we never know the impact we might make on one another.
But more than cultivating a love of travel in me, she was a constant pillar of generosity and faithfulness that I look back on now more than ever with immense respect. Her generation, the Queen’s generation, endured hardship in a very different way than we do today. My grandmother was tough and she lived 97 years full of sacrifice and humility.
Two monumental deaths in my life are a reminder that death is inevitable, though one is on a much more personal basis. Both my grandmother and the Queen grew up facing Depression and War. Both served their nation, their families, and their God. Death is the great equalizer: it knocks at the door of every person. But even as I rose at 2:30 am this morning to watch the Queen’s funeral and committal services, the more important service today is for my beloved grandmother, to whom I now bid aloha.