My annual trip back in time

As I sat at work in the West Loop earlier today, I heard a familiar sound. It took a few seconds for it to sink in, to realize just where that sound was coming from. But even before I recognized it, a soothing, peaceful feeling came over me. It wasn’t the calming sound of flowing water, or the heartwarming laugh of a child – quite the contrary. It was the roar of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels zooming through the sky!

The Blue Angels are in town for this weekend’s 54th Annual Chicago Air and Water Show, and today was a practice day. I am able to see and hear them from my office window. You might be wondering how such a sound could be soothing to me, as those are some loud and powerful airplanes. The simple and honest answer is: the Blue Angels always remind me of my grandmother. To further explain my affinity for the Blue Angels and why my grandmother always comes to mind, I will share part of a post I wrote in 2010 for my original blog:

My paternal grandmother (Mimi, as we called her) loved the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, one of the highlights of the Air & Water Show.  Because we lived so close to Lake Michigan (the epicenter of the Air & Water Show), when I was younger we got to witness essentially four days’ worth of mid-air maneuvers by these skilled pilots.  (Four days = two days of practice + two days of actual Air & Water Show.)  Every year without fail, Mimi pulled out her rickety, metal sunbathing chair and set it up in our backyard to watch the Blue Angels fly, twist, dive, and roar overhead.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this was the highlight of her summer.  And, our backyard – if you want to call it that – was no more than an 8×8 patch of grass behind our 6-flat apartment building on West Lexington Street.  But when I was sitting out there with Mimi watching those planes, and watching her face glow ever so slightly with delight, I could have been anywhere in the world and it would not have mattered.  My Mimi pretty much was my best friend until she passed away in 1988, when I was 14 years old.  I miss her like you can’t imagine, even more than twenty years later, but getting to see those Blue Angels every summer makes me remember those days in our little backyard, and a whole host of other happy memories from those brief fourteen years I had with her.  I hope the Blue Angels keep on flying forever.

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29 Responses to My annual trip back in time

  1. Pola (@jettingaround) August 17, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    Aw, what a beautiful memory… Thank you for sharing it with us! I don’t know what it is, but I always miss the show! I’m either out of town or it’s pouring rain… Maybe next year.

    • Francesca August 20, 2012 at 8:36 am #

      This would have been the perfect year to see the Air & Water Show, Pola. The weather here was glorious! Thank you for the kind words 🙂

  2. Amber Roth DeGrace August 17, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    So sweet, Francesca. That kind of memory never fades. Lotus liked the Blue Angel photos above … she said, “ooooh, those are MY airplanes”. 😉

    • Francesca August 20, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      It sure doesn’t, Amber. I was watching the local news last night. During the broadcast, they showed highlights of the Air & Water Show and, of course, they included the Blue Angels. It brought me to tears to see them. Of course those are Lotus’s airplanes! That little darling can claim anything she’d like!

  3. Frances Folinazzo August 17, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Well you brought tears to my eyes. I miss her very much too.

    • Francesca August 20, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      I know, Mom. Mimi was special to all of us in different ways.

  4. Charu Suri (@Butterflydiary) August 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    What a beautiful post!! A lovely, precious memory. I’m sure your grandma wishes that they fly forever too.

    • Francesca August 20, 2012 at 8:41 am #

      Thanks so much, Charu. I’d like to think that now my Mimi can see the Blue Angels whenever she’d like 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  5. travelrinserepeat August 18, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    I saw these guys in Pensacola…amazing!

    • Francesca August 20, 2012 at 8:42 am #

      They really are amazing! I just found out they won’t be here next year for the Air & Water Show; they’ll be back in 2014. Kind of a bummer.

  6. Kieu August 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Hey.. I saw the Blues in Honolulu on the same day when we were heading to the airport. Is that a coincidence or a National thing, you think?! Anywho, it was way cool to see them zoom by. 🙂

    • Francesca August 20, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      Yes, it’s quite an experience! I was spoiled growing up because I got to see them from the comfort of my own backyard or from the roof of our apartment building. We went down to the beach two years ago to see them and holy crap, was it crowded! I like my personal viewing area much better 🙂

  7. Raul (@ilivetotravel) August 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Francesca, what a beautiful memory. Thanks for sharing it with us, your readers.

    • Francesca August 20, 2012 at 8:44 am #

      You’re quite welcome, Raul. Thank you for the kind words.

  8. Journeys and Travels August 18, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    Amazing how you captured them on their practice day. I am travelling with you as you reminisce the moments Mimi was also looking at the flypast of the Blue Angels 😉

    Cheers 😉

    • Francesca August 20, 2012 at 8:44 am #

      Aw, thank you. That’s quite special. Thanks for stopping by & reading, too!

      • Journeys and Travels August 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

        I am delighted to have read such a wonderful post such as this.

        Cheers 🙂

  9. Leah Travels (@L_e_a_h) August 20, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    The Blue Angels are amazing! I love how smells and sounds can instantly take us back to another time. It’s lovely that the sounds of the planes remind you of your grandmother.

    • Francesca August 20, 2012 at 8:49 am #

      So true, Leah. Since I haven’t built a time machine (yet), smells and sounds are the next best things 🙂

  10. lola August 20, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    awwww…so nice! homemade ice cream, watermelon & hush puppies make me think of my grandmother. i’m glad you had a beautiful day to remember your grandmother!

    • Francesca August 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

      Thanks, Lola. What is it about grandmothers? I miss both of mine every day.

  11. Lazy Travelers (@lazytravelers) August 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    this is so sweet! xo

    • Francesca August 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

      Thank you, darlings 🙂

  12. Fiona August 20, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Lovely post Francesca – so nice that this event brnught you close to your grandmother – sounds like a special day!

    • Francesca August 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

      I hope the Air & Water Show keeps going here in Chicago. It always is a special time for me. Thank you, Fiona!

  13. craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous) August 21, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    i absolutely love memories like this… sometimes we travel not physically but with our minds… and the journey can even be better… thanks for sharing your journey back to your time with someone special with us.

    stay adventurous, Craig

    • Francesca August 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Craig. Travel really is a state of mind; I’m a firm believer. Thanks for your kind words.

  14. Allison August 14, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    I know how you feel! I live near an Air Force Base where the Thunderbirds practice before the annual air show, and F-16s fly over my house daily. It’s amazing what they can do, and I have some fun air show memories with family.
    Allison recently posted…A half-day tour with Crystal Seas KayakingMy Profile

  15. verushka August 19, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    Oddly enough I live not too far away from an airport that is no longer in use. When the airport moved we missed the sound and watching planes fly by. Now the airport is so far away from us.

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