A Letter/Review from Paul Fiebich
I met Paul Fiebich on April 2, 2011, in Chase County, at the 80th anniversary commemoration of the plane crash that killed famed Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. Paul and I were seatmates, I believe, on a borrowed school bus, and along with a couple dozen others, we bounced over a “road” in a pasture in the Flint Hills to the site of the crash that killed Rockne and seven others. Paul is immediately likable and we struck up a conversation.
Paul, from Derby, is a former engineer at Cessna, a pilot, and a builder of small aircraft. He flies an airbike and on his flights over Kansas, he often defends the Western Front from the Huns.
In addition to being a pilot, Paul writes how-to and humorous articles for numerous piloting magazines. If you’ll read that above-linked article or others from his website, airbikeace.org, you’ll see that he occasionally veers from reality in his writing, but that’s just part of the fun that he has with flying and with writing. I told Paul he has a “free-range imagination.”
When I received this heart-warming email from Paul this morning, I laughed at his bit about the tears and Kleenexes, but I absolutely loved his response to my new book, Waiting on the Sky. He allowed me permission to print his letter. Here it is:
Hi Cheryl,I am nearing the end of your book. After reading since this morning, I stopped at the page titled “Navigating Our Lives.”Never have I read a book that when finished with a section, I first had to clear out all the tear-soaked Kleenex tucked between me and the chair arms and those strewn on my lap. Had I not done so and stood up, an avalanche of huge white “snowflakes” would have tumbled to the floor in front of me like snow sliding off a metal roof.Your writing style and content is emotionally grabbing. Hardly a story is read that doesn’t cause my eyes to weep and often tears flow like little rivers down my cheeks. I wipe and wipe but the leaky tear ducts continue to leak.Unfortunately, some of the book pages are now wrinkled. Tears on a page will do that you know.You strike many chords that the reader can relate to. You have the wisdom and insight of someone 1000 years old! And you present everyday situations with such an element of pride and heartwarming feeling that one can’t help but fall in love with your life. You are amazing! Thanks for sharing it, you have a gift. Perhaps the seeds were planted in that little library next to the fire station in Pawnee Rock. Yes, I believe you would have dozed in there on the floor snuggled in your sleeping bag.Your mother inserted the reading gene in your body as a youth. It was a normal activity as routine as brushing your teeth. What a fantastic mentor!Each story concludes with some bit of wisdom or statement that sums up not just the story but that aspect of life. I love the analogies (is that the right word?) you provide that drives home a point. Two recent ones I recall are “Sugar, butter, and chocolate are all over December like needles on a Christmas tree.” And another said something about “being stuck on you like a birthmark.”I wish I could remember all the analogies used in your book, they are clever, fresh, and punctuate the message. But that is the point, to accent your writing and the visual memory for the reader, not to be remembered for future use.Mornings are one of my favorite reading times. Occasionally my body says at that I am done sleeping. No matter how much I will it to return to slumber, it refuses. So I get up and do something, often it writing or reading.This morning it was reading. In the dim pre-dawn light, I made my way to the kitchen. Assembling the coffee maker and then wrapping the electric bean grinder with multiple towels and placemats I set the thing to whirring. It is as noisy as a rock crusher, I didn’t want to wake my wife. The aroma of freshly ground coffee beans just says something about good morning! Remember that TV coffee jingle? Maxwell House was it? I can’t remember how it goes either, but I do remember IT.Threading my way down the dark hall and to the living room, I carefully step over our sleeping Siberian Husky. She sleeps wherever she wants. Although she didn’t move (never does) even though my foot came down inches from her nose, she did open one eye and tracked me. Talk about having faith!Well, I finally made it to my chair and settled in for a good read. After several stories the coffee pot dinged signaling its completed task. With a hot cup of java in my hand I settled back into my chair for more reading. What a fine way to start the day!Thinking back several years ago when we first met on the school bus going to the Knute Rockne memorial event; how fortunate an encounter that was. You were extremely pleasant and just sparkled with conversation. Later we met again in the bookstore where I discovered you were an author and purchased your first book “Flyover People.”That was a pleasant experience as is reading your second book. As you said to your brother Leon “Tanks for the memories.”Paul Fiebich