Who We Are – The Sky’s the Limit

Branches of North Attleboro enjoys thrill of skydiving

Senior woman outdoors

Yvonne Mair – Eve to all who know her – seems a down-to-earth person with feet firmly planted on the ground.

However, it’s also true that she’s had her head in the clouds on occasion.

Three occasions, to be exact. When she was 80, 85 and 90, she went skydiving.

Eve, now 93, has been a resident of The Branches of North Attleboro, in Massachusetts, for just over a year. She grew up in Lakewood, a neighborhood in Warwick, Rhode Island, and had a home in North Attleboro before moving to The Branches.

Skydiving was not something she expected to do. Her daughter and granddaughter were heading to Skydive Newport in Rhode Island, and she came along to watch them. Eventually, the two convinced Eve to take the plunge with them. She decided to do it the first time because “it sounded like it would be fun.”

With each dive, she says, “I did it, came through it fine, and that was enough for me.” Eve made her last jump at 90. She was hoping to do it again when she turned 95, but the skydiving company indicated they were drawing the line at 90, she says.

Does she think of herself as a risk-taker? “I’m really not,” she said, but she argues that the experience gave her more confidence. She recalls that when she came back from her first dive, she found herself being more assertive with a contractor regarding the price for a home repair.

Asked to describe the skydiving experience, she talked a bit about the scary rush of the 40-second free fall, by being buffeted by the wind when you first jump from the plane. On each dive, she was securely strapped to an instructor who made sure all went smoothly – or as smoothly as jumping out of an airplane can go.

“I’m fine once the chute opens,” Eve says, making what surely qualifies as a major understatement. “I love the parachute ride. You’re just coming down gradually.” That part reminded her of a hot-air balloon ride she took when she was 85.

Woman with family after skydivingBefore her last jump, she decided at home to see how many times she could say the Hail Mary prayer in 40 seconds – the duration of the free fall. So, she timed it and determined she could say it three times. On her final dive, she employed the Hail Mary. “I concentrated on that.”

When she was working, Eve served as a secretary for the John Hancock in Boston and worked in one of the dean’s offices at the University of Rhode Island.

On The Branches, she says, “I love it here. It’s just such a lovely place. They put us first, ahead of everything else.” Among her activities at The Branches, Eve started a crochet club. “Right now, I’m working on an afghan blanket for one of my great-grandchildren,” of which she has several. Her husband, Alan, a Navy veteran, died twelve years ago.

Eve’s skydiving days appear to be over, but it wasn’t long ago that she entertained other ways to get airborne. “I looked into becoming a pilot. I was in my 80s. But I changed my mind,” she says. Between grandmothering duties and other responsibilities, she decided she was too busy.

For now, she’ll stick with needlework.

The Branches of North Attleboro