this is my journal ... i write it as i go ... it has typos ... it's not perfect ... but then ... neither am i

Goodbye Alan
July 23, 1998
8:04 a.m.

     It is right after lunch and I am in my car. It is a red Saturn, named after the sixth planet from the sun--a 1992 model, one of the first ever made, I believe. The radio is playing, first music, then news. The sun is shining and it's ninety degrees out. I have eaten at Fazolli's--the lasagna and spaghetti dinner if you must know.

     I pull into the parking lot at work and guide my car to a place under the shade of a low-hanging tree.

     This is where I am when I hear that Alan Shepard has died.

     A hollow feeling comes across my stomach. I remember images. American flags. Golf clubs. Footprints of black and gray. Big toothy smiles coming from grown men who seem to be half heros, half little boys.

     Besides being named for a planet, I realize my car also carries the name of the rocket that powered the Apollo program.

     I sit with the windows rolled up and the air conditioner running. The news reporter says Alan Shepard was seventy-four years old, and that he died of leukemia. My sister-in-law just ran a race for the Leukemia Society. We donated money in her name.

     The radio says that Alan Shepard was born in November of 1923, and that his first time in space was May 5, 1961. Oh, yeah, I remember. The flight was four days before I was born. This means I was one of the first children brought into a world where an american man had flown in space.

     I do the arithmetic in my head.

     He was thirty-seven years old when Mercury flew. As I sit in my car outside a building where I will soon go to oversee the development of embedded software that runs in diesel engines, I too am thirty-seven years old.

     I don't know what to think. All these connections. Life is full of connections, and now I don't know what they all mean.

     Maybe they mean nothing.

     All I do know is that I'm sitting in a red car that carries the name of the Apollo rocket. And that Alan Shepard has died.

     And that I have a lump in my throat that will not go away.


Daily Persistence is © Ron Collins
July 28, 1998
Secret to Life
July 26, 1998

July 25, 1998

July 23, 1998
Goodbye Alan
July 22, 1998

July 19, 1998

July 18, 1998

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