Dig Me a Grave in the Blue, Blue Sky

Don Budwell mugs for the camera just seconds before reaching for his ripcord and discovering he isn't wearing a parachute

When Don Budwell was a little boy, his mother would tell him he was so absent-minded that he’d forget his head if it wasn’t screwed on.  Last Saturday, that absent-minded streak came back to haunt him one last time.

Budwell, a member of the local skydiving club, The Chrislip Sky Jockeys, had made hundreds of uneventful jumps.  On the jump that would be his last, he made a mistake that proved fatal:  he forgot to put on his parachute.

“We’ve all left things off our checklist,” said his jump buddy Tim Wheeler.  “Gloves, goggles, line-cutters.  Don just happened to forget one of the biggies.”

Budwell jumped from the plane, plunged ten thousand feet, and in a mind-boggling defiance of the odds, landed squarely in the middle of a swimming pool in the backyard of one of Chrislip’s swankier homes.  The pool had been drained for winter.

Tim Wheeler reminisced about his late friend.  “Our club used to stop at the bar after an afternoon of jumping.  Don would get philosophical after a few drinks.  He’d gaze off into space and say, ‘Boys, if anything ever happens to me, dig me a grave in the blue, blue sky’.  We’d be like, ‘Absolutely, bro.  We hear you, man’.”

Now that Budwell is dead, his friends admit that they don’t know exactly what that means, or how to go about it even if they did.  He will be interred in Shady Grove Cemetery.

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