How amazing that when my own children were about the same age I was when Glenn circled the earth the first time, he went into space again as the oldest person to ever do so, a member of the space shuttle Discovery crew.
|Me as the astronaut and my sister as Mickey Mouse. |
Tall for my age, those cowboy boots helped cover the short pants gap.
|My son as the astronaut, but my daughter didn't just wear girly costumes.|
I also have a photo of her as a pirate, one of my favorite pictures.
A bit of that childhood aspiration came back, because once more John Glenn was teaching me something and that is we can never let age determine how high we can go.
A decorated World War II and Korea fighter pilot as well as a United States Senator for twenty-four years, He died at 95 on December 8 of last year.
Flags flew at half-mast. We grieved.
Then on December 27, we lost Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher. I cried when I read the news. I saw the first Star Wars, yes, on the big screen when I was in college. Later, when my little son became fascinated with the Star Wars story, Princess Leia began showing up on the den floor, the dining room table, and occasionally even went on vacation with us as a little plastic figure wearing an amazingly detailed replica of her movie attire. I was privy to many of her new adventures above and beyond the ones depicted in the movie.
Who could believe only five days after Carrie’s death, her mother, Debbie Reynolds would die? Debbie Reynolds of Singin’ in the Rain fame, who danced and sang her way alongside Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in what some have called the best movie musical ever made. At our house, we have laughed ourselves silly many times over a lesser-known movie, oddly called The Mating Game, in which she made playing opposite Tony Randall. You can’t watch it and not laugh out loud at the slapstick comedy.
Then last Wednesday, while sitting in a hospital with a family awaiting news of a family member’s surgery, a television played in the background and someone said, “Mary Tyler Moore died.” For just a tiny moment, the earth seemed to pause, as I looked up and saw the news bulletin on the screen. I had just been writing in recent days about Mary’s influence on my life in a book project I’m working on. I called her my seventies “paragon of fashion,” but I’m wondering now, if she’s been that for my whole life. She was even the reason I liked orange for an oh, so brief period. If you know me now, orange is not even on my color wheel.
However, Mary was much more. She inspired a whole generation of women like me to realize after all life had thrown them, they really could “make it.” And when things don’t go the way you’d hoped in your life, it’s a good thought to hold on to.
So, in a few short weeks, several iconic figures fell. Although, I may not have been in the same political, spiritual, or ideological camp as these folks, still they had given me much.
As those pillars start toppling, what do folks do who don’t know there is One who will always remain steady in our lives?
When a beloved pastor and mentor planned his move from this town many years ago, it left me and many others devastated. What would we do without him? We had so counted on his wisdom and guidance. However, in his final words of the last service he preached, he gave us these words from Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever.”
Those powerful words sustained us in the days and weeks ahead as we realized that we had been clinging to Him because He loved God, and now it was time to cling to God alone.
When the lifelong heroes like John Glenn die and the cultural landscape shifts as it has in the past few weeks, we once more take comfort that there is One who never changes, who is eternal.
Just before the ship John Glenn had named Friendship 7 launched into space, “mission control performed its final system checks, test conductor Tom O’Malley initiated the launch sequence, adding a personal prayer,‘May the good Lord ride all the way,’ to which (Scott) Carpenter, the backup astronaut for the mission, added, ‘Godspeed, John Glenn.’”
Many years later those words became part of Glenn’s social media hashtag: #Godspeedjohnglenn.
So, God Speed John Glenn . . . and Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and Mary Tyler Moore.
Thank you for being part of our lives.