Ever since she was a little girl, 50-year-old Elizabeth Seba remembers being her dad’s accomplice in whatever crazy activity he had in mind.
“He used to try to invent vehicles that we could ride down the big hill at our house,” says Seba, referring to the neighborhood home that her parents have lived in for 43 years.
“He’d always be testing them out or trying to build go-carts. We’d skateboard down that hill together,” she continues, explaining that, being the oldest of four girls, she was always the tomboy of the bunch.
“Everywhere he went when we were kids, whether it was climbing a mountain or hiking, I’d be there to do it with him.”
So naturally, when Seba’s father, 74-year-old Lake Highlands resident Noble Cross, decided he wanted to skydive, she was right there with him.
“When Elizabeth’s husband called me the day before I was scheduled to dive and said she wanted to jump too, I said ‘Are you kidding me?’” Cross says. “But it was fantastic being able to share that experience with my daughter.”
Being involved in athletic activities together over the years has always played a large role in bringing his family close, Cross says. He introduced his daughters to soccer during his 11 years in the Lake Highlands Soccer Association, and two of them still play soccer on the same team. Cross has remained active with cycling, noting that he just turned 32,000 miles on his bike, and he continued playing softball until he was 60 years old.
“It has been a tremendous influence on my family,” he says.
Although Seba and her father both say the skydiving experience was fantastic, the jump day came at a time of tragedy for their family. Cross’ grandson-in-law, Ruben, passed away suddenly July 16, two days before Cross was scheduled to dive. His death left granddaughter Amanda alone with their three small children.
Cross was quick to extend a helping hand. He and his wife, Jane, are taking care of first-grader Gracee after she gets out of school at White Rock Elementary, where Cross enrolled her following her father’s death. The other two children, ages four and 16 months, are staying with a woman who lives near their home in Richardson during the day while their mother is at work.
“We are hoping to get them to Lake Highlands soon so they can be closer to the family,” Cross says.
Despite Ruben’s unexpected death, the cause of which the family declines to discuss, Cross and Seba went ahead with the skydive.
“We decided to go ahead and do those things because the family needed relief – something happy to take our minds off of the tragedy,” says Seba, who initially decided to do the dive with her dad to celebrate her 50th birthday.
“It was good for us to all be together and bond that way. And I think Ruben would have wanted it that way. He would’ve been there with us.”
Knowing the entire family was together watching below, Seba and Cross geared up in their flight suits and prepared for their jump.
“Dad called us Astro-nuts,” Seba laughs. The father and daughter were the first to jump out of a group of 12 others, both with a tandem instructor.
“It was the most exhilarating thing I have ever done,” Cross says. “And it gave me a sense of pride knowing that my daughter wanted to go with me.”
Even though Cross and his family are still working through the emotion of Ruben’s death, good news soon found its way to them. Recently, Noble and Jane became great-grandparents again. This time to baby girl Aliya. Now he is busy at work building a tree house in his backyard for all of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“It’s so good to have them so close,” he says.