Monday, July 20, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed

"One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."

I clearly recall hearing those words on July 20, 1969, the day man first walked on the moon.

I got to skip church to watch the moon landing. And we never skipped church. I felt a little guilty but this was the moon landing. I wasn't going to miss it. I remember my mother and one of my sisters went to church and got back home before the astronauts actually walked on the moon. I remember seeing my mother and sister walk past the basement window and thinking how ironic it was that they went to church AND got to see man walk on the moon. Though I'm sure "ironic" was not in my vocabulary when I was ten. While I can picture myself in the family room watching the moon landing, it's the skipping church part that remains most vivid in my mind. That says something about my family, I guess. Moon landing, skipping church, equally monumental.

I remember my father telling me that when he was in high school his science teacher told his class that man would walk on the moon in their lifetime. "We all thought he was crazy," Dad said. Wonder if that teacher was still alive in 1969. I hope so.

Like most Americans during those years I was enamored with space. I had a poster in my bedroom of "The Earth Rising," a now famous image of the "half earth" suspended in a black sky above the surface of the moon. The space program gave us all something to be proud of in a time when our country was greatly divided over a great many things.

Tonight I watched a documentary about the moon landing. It brought up some things I didn't realize as a child. Nixon was president. He spoke to the astronauts by phone by way of the Houston Space Center. Why don't I remember that? Five other Apollo missions landed on the moon, the last one in 1972. I knew there were other missions to the moon but I couldn't have told you there were that many. The Six Flags amusement parks ought to capitalize on that somehow.

The documentary also talked about the importance of Apollo missions 1 - 10. Each one tested an important part of the moon landing, with Apollo 10 hovering above the surface of the moon without actually landing.

As I watched the documentary I noticed I was smiling. I was reliving the excitement of those space travel years. I smiled realizing I remembered the day man walked on the moon. I shared that experience with "my fellow Americans." And I was proud.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chef Eric

 The other day, my son, Eric, made sausage gravy for dinner. This excited me on several levels.

 1) Eric is 13.

I didn’t know how to make gravy until after I was married. I’m amazed that Eric can make gravy—and good gravy at that—at age 13.

 2) Eric loves to cook.

He’s always enjoyed cooking. As a kid he loved watching the popular and charismatic chef Emeril Lagasse on television. Eric isn’t afraid to experiment and try new things. I’m tied to recipes and seldom deviate. He’s going to be a much better cook than I am.

He helped make hamburgers on the grill recently. They needed a little extra cooking time in the microwave, but otherwise turned out really good.

“Did you put something extra in the meat?” someone asked?

“Did you grill them differently?”

“No, all I did was shape them into patties,” he said. 

He must have magic hands if he just has to pat the meat for it to turn out just right!           

3) Eric is part of our family support network.

When I was offered the option to work full-time after working part-time for a few years, I asked my family what they thought about it. One of my concerns was getting dinner on the table every night. I could join the ranks of those who cook once a week—or once a month—and prepare enough food for a week—or a month. But I’m not that organized. Nor do I want to be. My family offered to share the cooking chores. Each of us (Doug, the three kids, and I) agreed to cook one weeknight and clean up one weeknight. Doug and I work together on weekends.

We set the schedule around each person’s availability. We each had regular activities like music lessons or small group meetings that we needed to accommodate. Plus, short-term activities like play practice required a little flex in the schedule. Now, Abby is heading off to college so we’ll have to shift things around more.

I can’t say we all do our chores without grumbling, but we do get it done. And we’ve learned to cook and clean and cooperate. Talk about life skills!

 4) I love sausage gravy.

‘nuf said.



Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Goodbye, Michael Jackson

 Michael Jackson’s death made me sad. Not so much because I was a fan. I liked some of the earlier music by the Jackson Five, but I didn’t follow Michael’s solo career so much. I heard a man say that Michael Jackson’s music was the sound track of his life. That does not describe me. I was touched more by the deaths of John Denver and Karen Carpenter than I was Michael Jackson. Their music did weave itself into the fabric of my teenage years.

            I was saddened by Michael’s death for different reasons. In a strange way I was sad because he and I were the same age. He was just two weeks older than I. So, somehow, that made it more personal. Someone my age died.

            But I wasn’t saddened only by the tragedy of this early death; I was saddened by the tragedy of his life. It appears he had a domineering father that robbed him of his childhood. I’m sure Michael genuinely enjoyed performing, and it sounds like he wanted to be famous. But from my humble perspective I think he should have spent a little more time riding bikes. That’s what I did when I was 11. Michael Jackson was on The Ed Sullivan Show.

            I also think his numerous cosmetic surgeries reveal an inner sadness. The day he died, Kate and I were watching some of the retrospectives on TV.

            “He was a cute kid,” Kate said. “Why did he get so much plastic surgery?"

            “Because he wasn’t happy with himself,” I told her. I don’t mean to imply that all plastic surgery is wrong. I’ve seen cases where surgery corrected some disfigurement or altered an unappealing attribute and the results were worthwhile. But was there anything wrong with Michael Jackson’s face? I don’t know what he saw when he looked in the mirror, but it wasn’t what the rest of the world saw. The cute 10-year-old boy singing his heart out on The Ed Sullivan Show turned into an addicted, disfigured, and bizarre man. 

And that’s just sad.


P.S. The Sunday after Michael Jackson died I read these words in our church hymnal:

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;

I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;

I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,

I’d rather be true to His holy name.

Than to be a king of a vast domain

Or be held in sin’s dread sway,

I’d rather have Jesus than anything

This world affords today.

by Rhea F. Miller, 1922.