A Bird in the Hand

Simon was one of several Chinese students I taught at a private school thirty years ago. We became very close. He once referred to me as his Canadian dad.

Although I was his chemistry teacher, he taught me many things. One afternoon he showed me how to make two origami figures, one of which was the swan with flapping wings. Over the years I would practice so as not to forget.

Now let’s fast forward to last month.

My son and I were flying to St John’s, Newfoundland. The flight time was an hour and a half. Seated in front of us was a young father with two children. His daughter was about a year and a half old and his son may have been four. There was no in-flight entertainment system.

As the plane approached St John’s, the pilot informed us that the conditions were not favourable for landing. After circling the airport for thirty minutes we were diverted to Deer Lake for refuelling. During this entire time, the two children were content and very well behaved. I was quite impressed.

We spent forty-five minutes on the tarmac before making the thirty minute flight back to St John’s. I could tell the young boy in front of me was getting restless.

I took a piece of paper and made the swan. I handed it up to the father and showed him how to make the wings flap. He then handed it to his son. For the final leg of the trip the boy played with the swan as his sister watched. Before we landed, I made another swan and passed it forward between the seats. I told the boy that it was for his sister.

After we landed the father turned to me: “Thank you. He played with that for almost the entire trip. It kept him busy.”

Simon, thank you. You again made a difference.

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