Janet's BFF Kris saved the day by travelling with her on the train. This made my mother very happy and amused Kristina to no end.
Today I took my mother and the kids to the California Science Center, specifically to see the Endeavor. The science center is a sprawling edifice to technology. We didn't even see half of it between line waiting for the Endeavor and lunch. The part we did see was important.
I often tell the story of being a child and watching the Apollo 11 launch into space. This left a lasting impression on me and led me to be fascinated with all things space. The Apollo program left within me a deep awe and reverence for all things space related.
Seeing the Endeavor today was an awe-inspiring experience. It's one thing to see the shuttle land. It's still something far away. It's quite another thing to see it up close and in person. In person, it was the sum total of all of the science and exploration I had yearned and learned about my entire life. I was eight years old again, and wanting to blast off.
Walking around the shuttle, I was so touched by the history, and effort to put this amazing machine into space it was hard to speak. Then I remembered the losses of Challenger and Columbia. Reagan's speech went through my head:
We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God.
I also thought of how there is nothing else like this on the horizon and more than a moment of angst for my children. I told them both through a strained voice that I hoped something this awesome would be there for their lives as well. I walked around the massive machine again then wandered near the gift shop.
Matthew was trying on astronaut jackets and I almost wept. There was my boy becoming an astronaut. I couldn't think of something that would make me prouder as a father. I hope he thinks about this day, and about space, and about how something out there touches him...