Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day 2008

I found a picture of my father
from 1968
the year before he pulled over the car with all of us in it
on the side of the road somewhere in Michigan in July
the first VACANT sign he could find
he rented a room and piled us in, all five of us and two beds but most important a tv affixed to the wall above the cheap dresser so we could see
the giant leap for mankind.

In the photo he is thirty five; gazing into the soul of the lens as if he knew its depths
he didn't know
In eleven years he'd be dead
with me by his side begging him not to.

For Fathers' day I went out and bought a frame for that photo, black with a white matte, now he gazes at me with that same concentration, amused, disappointed a little, curious even now that he may have missed something deep in there. At nine o'clock
I watched two hours of NASA footage
Moon launches and landings like we never could have seen, from NASA's vault, my father's dream of a perfect Sunday night with us.
Astronauts and engineers together through life and fear and death and failure. And victory. And always a new abyss beyond that now plumbed.

Who could look away from Neil Armstrong, except to see my father transfixed as we were. Except to see the moon had not changed for the men now on it? Now, my father said, there really is a man in the moon.


  1. I remember that July 1968 night too.

    We crowded around the television set in our basement - my mother and father, all 7 of my brothers and sisters - and my grandfather.

    I was sitting next to my grandfather, otherwise I likely never would have noticed his total awe and wonder at what was transpiring on the tv. "Glory be to God" he kept repeating. He used to say that all the time, when something struck him as unusual or maddening, or just confounded him completely.

    He was a man who was born in 1895Ireland, and had lived through so much history already. But to him, the moon was always the stuff of literature and books and music and song. A far-off magic orb you made wishes and pinned dreams on. And now someone had landed on it.

    I always remember how it was a beautiful full moon that night. It never hit me until years later when I was older that they must have planned the whole mission for that night on purpose, planned it around the spectacular full moon of summer.

    That was a beautiful, beautiful remembrance, Iso. (Thanks for bringing my own to mind, too)

  2. Of course I meant July, 1969.
    {cough} That gathering in July 1968 was for the Beverly Hillbillies.


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