Yesterday happened to be the 40th anniversary of the lift-off of Apollo 11, which led Neil Armstrong, who had flown 78 combat missions over Korea as a Navy fighter pilot, to take the first steps on the moon. The crew of three--Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins--blasted off from Cape Kennedy and arrived in space and an earth orbit in twelve minutes.
Yesterday also happened to be the day that my stepfather, Philip Wear, finally succumbed. The doctors had taken his chest tube out in the afternoon, and his breathing became labored after that. He took his last breath around 7:20 p.m., Minnesota time. Three people were by his bedside. Wherever he blasted off to only took seconds. It was the peace he sought.
Because Phil loved history so much, I'll also mention a few other important things that have happened on July 16th. In 1945, The United States detonated a plutonium-based test nuclear weapon at the Trinity site near Alamogordo, New Mexico, starting off the Atomic Age. In 1951, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was published. And ten years ago on July 16, John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren, died when the plane Kennedy was piloting crashed into the ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.
This all reminds me of a favorite W.S. Merwin poem:
For The Anniversary Of My Death
by W. S. Merwin
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what
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