Of Loss and Hope
June 21, 2004
[Note - design will be changing soon]
Perhaps tomorrow or another day soon I shall extol with melodrama on the virtues of blogging and my sudden embrace (see #7) of the medium. But not this day. This day I shall speak of loss and of hope.
I am by nature a stoic. Thus it is not often that I shed a few tears twice in 24 hours.
The first occasion was in melancholic memory of my father's mother, who passed away yesterday morning. Grief for her was not the cause—rather a sadness that the world should be deprived of such a soul. Even this sadness is not one to last, for death is but nature. She was one who lived as the est Christian woman she could be—a friend to all, dispensing wisdom, advice, life skills, perhaps a few too many stories…
She was a Southerner through and through, growing up in East Texas. Her father as a county judge helped build one of the first schools in Texas for African American children. She had more than the usual number of black friends and acquaintances, yet never batted her eye at the fact that she used to employ a black housekeeper whom she refused to invite to her son's wedding. We never could break her from the habit of calling African Americans "nigras," which in her mind was quite a different word from that one of which you are now thinking.
She was the first of her family to receive a college degree. She worked as a teacher, a social worker, a chemist (during The War). She was very talented, and quite proud of her accomplishments and those of her family. She took in extended family as her own kith, and for the last few years held her body together through sheer will as she awaited the next big family event. In such a way she triumphed over illnesses to reach four weddings (nearly attended a fifth one month ago) and had the bounty of meeting two healthy great-grandchildren.
But finally her body had seen enough. She had been at peace with death for many years, and I always believed her when she said that she did not fear death. She had an unshakeable faith in her Methodist creed, a faith that certainly would have filled her last moments before slipping away just as it had filled her life.
Now at 88 she has finally rejoined her husband, 19 years deceased. Happy father's day, Granddaddy—Grandma's here to see you.
This morning history was made as SpaceShipOne left the atmosphere, floating 400 ft. beyond the internationally-recognized boundary of space. It was a triumphant moment that, as I watched the White Knight soar into the troposphere, brought a few tears of joy and amazement to momentarily cloud my eyes.
If you've not watched a film clip of the event, do so. And think about all it may signify. This isn't the beginning of cheap and ubiquitous space flight—Ruttan's ship isn't capable of anything truly commercial beyond a few joy rides. Nevertheless this was an awe inspiring event, one that I hope and believe augurs a bright few decades ahead of us.
I don't know what I expect of NASA in years to come, but these bold engineers and explorers have fanned the sparks left in my soul by The Jetsons, Luke Skywalker, and Ray Bradbury. Do you grok me?