We went to the beach early so the children could play a bit before the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. It was Monday morning. The launch was scheduled for 9:23 AM.
On Tuesday the week before, Frank, my husband of 49 years had died. Because of his commitment to Christ, we knew he was running through heaven. The week had been a blur of tears and laughter. Family and friends came by the house to drop off food or cards. They all lingered for a moment making sure that I was all right. Bitter-sweet times washed through our home like a reoccurring flood of healing balm.
Our children, three grandchildren and I had spent much of Saturday sorting and dividing things that the grandchildren wanted to have as a remembrance of their Grandpa. He and I had often talked about what each child would want to have.
My husband was a NASA scientist who worked for 45 years on the space program. A good friend of Frank’s had called to accept our invitation to speak at his memorial service. His colleague said, “Frank was a true engineer. He always came with concrete numbers and mathematical proof for his conclusions. There was no guessing or using his instinct when designing systems that related to the space program.” Therefore, this final launch of the Endeavour held more significance for our family than for some of the people dotting the beach.
It was a perfect day and the bird lifted from its perch, ascending into the blue sky without a hitch. The rest of the children and grandchildren had to return to their work. But my daughter, her husband, their two children and I walked the two block to the ocean to view the spectacle. And we were not disappointed. My daughter had wrapped her arms around both of her children as we walked and said, “This is an important moment in history. But it is even more important for our family because Granddaddy devoted most of his career designing and working on piping that fuels the shuttle.”
As we watched the silent speck rise effortlessly into space, my eight-year-old granddaughter said in a loud voice, “Goodbye, Grandpa.” Then she repeated it again and again as tears traced my cheeks. I quietly wept for the loss of the man and engineer that I love.
God is so good to his children and He knows what is best for us far better than we know ourselves. For me, there was no greater tribute to my husband than that lovely voice speaking tender words as the vehicle disappeared, “Goodbye, Grandpa.”