74-year-old skydives to conquer childhood fears

Gladys Handberg puts her arms out with no fear as she skydives just outside of Saskatoon on July 12, 2019. (Gladys Handberg/Submitted)

“(Skydiving was) awesome. Amazing. I can’t put it into words.”

– Gladys Handberg

Gladys Handberg used to be afraid of getting in an airplane.

But standing in a plane thousands of feet above the prairies, she stood, smiling and calm. Extending her arms, she jumped with her guide into freewill.

The 74-year-old who lives in Prince Albert was scared of heights as a child. As her faith grew, her trust in God helped her begin to conquer that fear — riding in helicopters and hot air balloons and, of course, going skydiving.

“I wasn’t afraid of anything,” she said.

About two weeks prior to going skydiving at Skydive Saskatoon a couple weeks ago, she knew in her heart she had to do it.

“I was sitting on my sectional and (Jesus) said ‘Go and phone and make the appointment,’ so I phoned and made the appointment and went,” said Handberg. She let out a giggle.

“(Skydiving was) awesome. Amazing. I can’t put it into words, you can’t put it into words. You’ve got to go through the experience,” she said. “I wasn’t drunk, but it was like being drunk.”

She explained how she praised God as she fell, even as she looped three times.

Handberg said the experience gave her a better understanding of her life as a kid, when her fears weren’t just things like heights or thunder, but the fear that no one would ever love her.

“Mom and I didn’t get along, I’ll put it that way and it was very hard for me to grow up in a home where I didn’t think I was loved and my mom told me that. She always said ‘Nobody loves you,’” she explained.

“It was just a big load off of me when I found out that God loved me and He really cares about me because I never had anybody that told me that when I was a kid.”

So, when she was old enough, she developed the mindset that she only wanted to do things she wanted to do, not paying attention to others.

When Handberg was about in her 50s, her mom said she loved her and they forgave each other. Her mom eventually passed away.

Now, her life is driven by what God wants her to do: “I just go when He tells me to.”

Handberg said she would go skydiving again if He presented her with the opportunity. But she loves the adventure and travelling around the world.

“I know that I’m a different person now than before.”