Tag Archives: mental illness

Celebrating a Life

photo (2)This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, though, really the goal is to prevent suicide every week, every day. Yesterday, was World Suicide Prevention Day, and around the world, people held candlelight vigils, honoring their loved ones who died by suicide. I attended the vigil in Atlanta last night, and read the following tribute, celebrating his life.

While the story of my dad’s suicide in 1991, at the age of 54, was dramatic and tragic, it is not the most important story of his lifetime.

His greatest passion was aviation. He flew planes, photographed planes, and wrote about planes.

It was said that my father had one of the largest collections of airplane photographs in the country, and, as far as I know, they were all taken by him. He shared this love of all things airborne with the family he loved. Growing up, we regularly had weekend lunches at the Addison Airport restaurant in North Dallas, where he would spend the afternoon taking pictures. This, of course, was a time when you could stand by a runway fence, snapping photos and not get arrested.

We traveled across Texas to various air shows and rural airports, spending our summer days hanging out on hot tarmacs. We would also hang out at small airports with his friends who had planes, occasionally getting to take a joy ride.

Of course, his love of flying also meant that he flew planes as well as taking pictures of them. In the late 60s, Dad became a corporate pilot for a Texas oil company, and in the 80s, he was a pilot for the Virgin Islands Seaplane Shuttle.

The grand heroic gesture was something that he was also fascinated with, and it was during his time flying seaplanes that he was able to help save the day with his own grand gesture.

On June 5, 1987, Virgin Islands Seaplane Shuttle Flight 329 was en route from St. Croix to San Juan, Puerto Rico when the aircraft was hijacked as it neared San Juan. The hijacker came to the cockpit, tapped Dad, the co-pilot, on the shoulder and demanded to be flown to Cuba, threatening to blow up the aircraft if that did not happen. Dad and the pilot convinced the man that they did not have enough fuel for the flight to Cuba. The hijacker allowed them to land in San Juan, permitting the 16 passengers and the 2 pilots to exit the plane, apparently believing that the pilots would return with maps and fuel for the flight to Cuba. The hijacker stayed on board and ultimately surrendered to police after a 7 hour standoff. They found he was armed with a homemade bomb in a briefcase, which he had brought onboard in St. Croix, and a flare pistol he obtained on the aircraft. Tragedy was averted by the quick thinking of both Dad and the pilot.

Though Dad’s life was cut short by mental illness, he lives on in the books he wrote, the photographs he took, and through his drawings and paintings. He would be thrilled to know that you can still find some of his airplane guidebooks on Amazon and Ebay.

Mitch Mayborn, my Dad, was a creative soul who longed to soar through the skies. He is missed by all who knew him and loved him.

Blog for Mental Health 2014 – The Time Has Come

I have been meaning to write this post since, well, since the beginning of this year when I first discovered the A Canvas of the Minds. It’s not hard to be a part of the Blog for Mental Health, but I was “what if I don’t do it right” kind of person which has stopped me all of my life from trying things that I was not 100% sure I could do. More on that later (as in, a different post, not yet written).

Without further adieu, here is my pledge:

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  

That wasn’t so hard now, was it?

Why am I doing this? While I do not have a diagnosable mental illness, perfectionist tendencies aside (see above), I have spent my life around those that do. Of course, through childhood and young adulthood, I was not fully cognizant of the mental illness that was swirling around me. I am certain by adolescence, I was at least marginally aware that there were some irregularities going on with my family. But we didn’t talk about it. We were taught at a very early age that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

And talking about something being mentally wrong with anyone in the family definitely fell into that “not nice” category. Shame. Stigma. How it thrived.

And how we’ve all suffered for the silence.

The time has come to speak up.

If you want to join me, and learn more about the Blog for Mental Health 2014 project and A Canvas of the Minds, please click here or on the picture above.

 

Well, This Could Be Awkward

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So, I read today’s Zero to Hero Challenge, and it sends the challengees to a new link and suggests we participate in the Daily Prompt. Okaaaayyy. Do I have a reputation? Hmmm. But first there’s a post I HAVE to post today, and it’s about my dad. Maybe these things are connected. I mean, I was a “daddy’s girl” and all, and yeah, years of therapy have taught me that many of the things that I’m about, my “reputation” as it were, have to do with things that happened in my childhood.

I thought that it would be hard to start writing this post. I wanted to set the right tone, without being shocking, maudlin, or look like I needed sympathy or condolences. But the reason I have to write this particular post is that today is the 23rd anniversary of my father’s suicide. Did you see the sentence above about years of therapy? For me, I mean. My dad was an alcoholic and we (my immediate family and others) are pretty much in agreement that he had bipolar disorder (undiagnosed). It was almost half a lifetime ago, and I’ve come to terms with it. So today, I wanted to focus just a little bit on something else that made my dad my dad. Gave him his reputation.

Dad was an artist (writer, painter, photographer, among other things) and he LOVED anything to do with aviation. LOVED. That was his reputation. He always had something he was creating. Always taking pictures, writing, and painting. Usually not all at the same time, but who knows what was going on in that always scheming and plotting mind of his. He had lots of projects. Mostly in the garage.

It was in our garage where he  developed one style of artwork that was so identifiable, that when Roland (see new widget with my “cast of characters” in the sidebar) saw my latest painting, he knew the reference immediately.

Mine painting is much smaller, because my dad did everything big. He would paint a large canvas or board all black. Then take the time-honored artist technique of flicking paint with a toothbrush, and create stars. His piece de resistance was the planets. He would raid our kitchen “stealing” round items, usually pie plates, much to my mom’s dismay. I’m pretty sure he used oil paint and he would squish blobs of paint from the tubes, randomly on the bottom of said pie plate. Then he would flip the plate over, and press the pie plate to the canvas, slowly spinning it to create his planet.

He spent hours perfecting the technique of planet creation, and I confess that my planets were created more timidly. Ultimately, I just painted the circles. Sorry, Dad. The airplanes on my painting were originally drawn by my dad when he was in high school. I found the drawings in an envelope with some old photos, scanned them, and inverted the colors. The photo of the little boy in the plane is actually my dad, taken in the late 1930s. You can see his love of aviation started very young. So the painting above is a collaboration of sorts.

Today’s post is not about me, but my dad, and his reputation for a love of all things aviation and creative. Boy, I can only imagine what he would have done with a digital camera…

Happy flying, Dad.