What follows is a personal story written by Kurtis Jones, the 2018 Regional Director for Region 2.
Lines High – Letting Go of a Kite and Pain
It turned out to be a beautiful day for a kite festival, one of many the Wind Wolves have participated in over the year 2017. Belmar Beach was hosting South Jersey Kitefliers club and welcoming other general public kitefliers. Wind Wolves consists of my girlfriend, her five kids and myself. We have a traveling kite show of sorts which includes a mobile store that sells kites and feather banners. We also provide a sound system and create bubble storms for the crowds.
The wind was sweet out of the south and steady around 9 -10 mph with little gusts and plenty of sun and few clouds. A middle aged man approached me with what seemed to be pieces of a kit in his hands. From what I could tell, It was a sailboat kite. You might have seen one. It is a graceful 3D kite with masts and sails which is a little complicated to set up the first time. To be clear, we did not sell the kite to him, but he asked if we could help him put it together. “Not a problem,” I said. I called out for Marcus (age12) the middle child of the pack who takes pride in being skilled when it comes to putting things together. He is also is the one we call on to assist customers with assembling kites. Yeah, in short, Marcus is our tech department. The man said his name was Jerry, and I introduced him to Marcus. Jokingly, I told them good luck and that I hoped to see them in an hour or so. They both walked a few yards away and started working on the kite together. They seemed to hit it off pretty well, but I kept an eye on them every once in a while. After 30 minutes passed, I went to check on Jerry and Marcus. They had just started flying the sailboat with its radiant colors. Marcus was prideful and feeling very accomplished, as well he should. All was good. Jerry was flying the kite and having a great time. His face was lit up with, you know, that kite smile when someone has just gotten a kite up in the wind and they’re holding their head up to the sun, and there is that certain twinkle in their eyes. Still, something felt a little off to me as I stood next to them, nothing bad, just … I dunno, not just another kite in the sky feeling I guessed
Jerry flew for about 10 minutes more then turned to me and said he wanted Marcus to have the kite. Marcus and I looked at each other somewhat bewildered. I sarcastically said “ Oh thanks, just what we need… another kite.” What was bizarre for me was… couldn’t Jerry see the multiplicity of racks of kites that we were selling? Why was he not getting that of all the kids on the beach, Marcus was the last kid who needed a kite? But ok, whatever! Marcus politely took the kite from Jerry’s outstretched hands and said. “Thank you”. I mumbled a thanks as well and Marcus went off to handle a kite issue for an eager customer.
Jerry continued to stand next to me and then in a soft voice told me that the kite had been in his garage and that when he drove by the kite festival he remembered he had it and went home to get it. “You see,” he said, “it was my 12 year old son’s kite that I bought for him last year. We never got to fly it though. My son died before we had a chance to fly it.
He went on to say, “I don’t talk about it much at all, but … he died in a fire at my next door neighbor’s house. My now ex wife blames me for his death because I said it was ok for him to sleep over his friend’s house.” I guess it would not be hard to imagine that words failed me at this moment. But it did appear to me that Jerry was not tearful or even sad, maybe somewhat unweighted at that moment. He then thanked me for letting him build and fly the kite with Marcus.