A Dream Within a Dream

Tony Shipperlee 2008, at the Fleet Air Arm Museum beside a Supermarine Walrus.

Perhaps the only thing more rewarding than fulfilling your own dream is to bring the dreams of another to fruition. A generational dream—or a dream within a dream.

Several years ago, I read Chase the Lion, an inspirational book by Mark Batterson, where he introduces the concept of generational dreams. His words are compelling. The concept he shares lodged deep-down in my memory bank, and only surfaced when a set of circumstances aligned, reminding me of his words and bringing them to life.

It always amazes me how orderly life is. Even amidst the chaos, time and sequence of events are relevant. Let me put it another way—God’s plans and his timing are always perfect. We may be perplexed. He is not.

Over a period of years, my father, who rarely spoke of WWII, wrote stories about his wartime experiences, and mailed them to me, one by one. On receipt, I filed them in a folder, some I read immediately, some I set aside to read later, others I quickly glanced over and filed away for future scrutiny.

As the years passed, and Dad retired from teaching, he added one or two more rather compelling stories, typed out on his old typewriter but, in his later years, his focus was on his art, and caring for my mother who was struggling with dementia. He sometimes mentioned writing a book about his WWII experiences, and I encouraged him to do it. I even volunteered to help type the stories into a Word document. He already had a couple of friends who were publishers, both urging him to publish but I think when his dream became strong enough to motivate him, his mental and physical energy was insufficient to tackle the task. After my mother passed, his friends continued to encourage him to write his memoirs, but he would just smile and say,

“My daughter and grandchildren have the stories, they can do it!”

As I was in the throes of writing my own book, the thought of tackling my father’s manuscripts was overwhelming and intimidating! Sadly, Dad died in Jan 2018 but at his memorial service the subject of his memoirs arose. I was urged by many in attendance to publish his memoirs. Once again, I was confronted with a challenge. Time and inclination were lacking as I was deep into my own manuscript, which finally published in 2019.

My conscience would nudge me at times filling me with a sense of regret that I hadn’t been more receptive to the idea of publishing Dad’s memoirs while he was living, but the timing was not right. My heart was not in it, life was happening all around me, the Pandemic kicked in, we purchased the ranch and renovated the house. I was somewhat weary and worn. I knew I was not up to publishing any book, let alone my father’s.

Suddenly it happened! I found myself assembling Dad’s manuscripts, digging through old letters, and setting aside documents from Dad’s enormous WWII folders. Excitement stirred in me as I mused on how wonderful it would be to tie up all the loose ends. It was a huge challenge but the truth is we don’t grow if we’re not challenged. We must leave our comfort zones.

I decided to complete the first daft by Father’s Day 2022. I would compile Dad’s stories into a Memoir Book, and I would write expansion chapters before each of his stories to add clarity and interesting insight into the man he was.  As I dived deep into his writings, and the research documents necessary to add credence to the expansion chapters, I realized that publishing his memoirs was most certainly more important to him than he had portrayed to our family.

That’s when the concept of a dream within a dream surfaced—at just the right time. In God’s timing. Dad’s dream would become my dream, and the desire to fulfil it propelled me into action to complete the task at hand. He was not destined to publish them in his lifetime, but I would.

Planes, Trains, and War Games, A Fleet Air Arm Pilot’s WWII Memoirs, will be released the first week in August. Meanwhile, I rejoice that it is done. I am overjoyed to have had the honor and privilege to fulfill my father’s dream—truly a generational dream because this book became a Tripp Family project. Three generations have contributed to the fruition of Dad’s dream. Dad wrote the source material, I wrote the expansion chapters, son Stephen and daughter Chandra typed thousands of words into MSWord documents from their grandfather’s typed manuscripts, while son David edited the final draft. Our son-in-law Dany translated a passage of Greek into English that accompanied Dad’s picture in a Greek book about WWII, and Chuck put up with all my shenanigans along the way. Lol!

I self published with Amazon Pro Publishers who assisted with the cover and formatted the book for publishing.

As a side note, I can confidently add that I never would have been able or fully equipped to publish this book while Dad was alive, at least not as it currently exists. In my heart I believe he’s proud of the accomplishment and cheering that his stories are in print for the world to read. My mother will surely rejoice that some of his beautiful paintings made the book cover and are included inside the memorabilia chapter. She always dreamed that his artwork would be widely seen, as she would often say,

“Tony, these paintings are too beautiful to be hidden away! They need to be seen.”

What I do regret is that my dad is no longer here. As I researched and read letters and documents from long ago, many questions surfaced—ones that remain unanswered. However, the reality of life is ever that way. We will always have unanswered questions. Therefore, I am at peace, knowing that all will be revealed in God’s timing, whether it be here or in the hereafter.

Meanwhile, if you choose to read the book check back here and stay tuned to my FB/IG pages. I will announce the release date and where to purchase as soon as the date is firm.

Our dreams predate us.
They were born long before we were.
Our dreams postdate us.
They make a difference long after we are gone.     
Mark Batterson

Photo Credits: David Tripp who captured the photograph during a tour of the museum, led by his grandfather, Tony Shipperlee, at the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, UK.

A Celebration of My Dad’s Life

John Anthony Shipperlee, whom we all know as “Tony”, was born in Leigh-on-sea, Essex, on 12th January, 1921. He was an only-child with an enthusiastic and adventurous spirit, whose loving parents encouraged him to play the piano, sing in the boy’s choir and join the boy scouts, where he was a drummer in the band and participated in numerous Drumhead parades in the Oxford area. Athletically inclined, his favorite sport at Southfield School was rugby and he was also an avid train spotter, but his artistic talent was undeniable. He loved to draw and he was rarely without a sketch pad, or far from his easel and paints. Continue reading →

Snap Decisions at Fareham – a Train Story

Happy Armistice Day!

I thought this would be a good time to share another of my Dad’s WWII stories for anyone that might have an interest. All of his stories are either handwritten or typed on an old fashioned typewriter, then mailed to me from England or Australia, usually along with a cover letter such as this one:

“Just the anecdote about the train affair in March 1944. Not a great war-winning event, but a rather unusual experience and reflection of what one of your children’s ancestors used to be like, since they still seem interested in these things. The one thing that appears different to me on reading it myself {from the days in 1944} is that then I felt very adult, confident, experienced and mature, but now I realize that I was only 23 years and 2 months – surprise to me at this ripe old age!
Love, Dad”
Continue reading →

A Night of the Portsmouth Blitz

Tomorrow is Father’s Day 2016 and my thoughts wander across the Atlantic to my Dad, now 95 years “young” and a widower since last year.  He is coping remarkably well with the help and support of some of the most loving, caring friends and daily care givers.

I am comforted to know Dad lives in a rare community where people know their neighbors, shop keepers, postal workers and so many more. And not only do they know each other by name, but they truly care … they live out God’s commandment of “love your neighbor.” They are hands on and quick to volunteer.

I am so grateful and so inspired by the spirit of love and generosity that envelops my Dad. Thank you Lord!

So as I cogitate on all this, my mind gravitates to our safe wherein lies a buff-colored folder with a selection of stories typed up by my Dad in bygone days. Stories that I’ve read and put away for safe keeping.  Last year I published one and this weekend, I share this next one in honor of my Dad and Father’s Day. Continue reading →

Just One Other Passenger

Hi Everyone!  Today is Memorial Day and a fitting day for me to post the first of a series of my Dad’s stories from his WWII days. My Dad served as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, a branch of the British Royal Navy.

Just One Other Passenger: by J.A. Shipperlee

Tony - UniformcropWhen a very young, inexperienced, extremely new and junior officer, I was proceeding from the Portsmouth area on a brief visit to Oxford bearing an official rail pass issued by the Navy. Reaching one of the local stations, I found the Basingstoke & London train already at the platform and ready to depart. So I hurried to a 1st Class carriage (as entitled by the 1st class pass), opened the door of one of the six- seat compartments, pushed my case onto the floor and mounted the step into the compartment. Quickly I lifted the case up onto the rack and turned to sit in a spacious, comfortable seat beside a window. Continue reading →