Thursday, October 4, 2007

An important day in (my) history

Fifty years ago today, something happened that affected everyone in the world, and something else happened that affected very few but changed my life completely.

On Friday, October 4, 1957, the Russians launched a rocket that put an unmanned satellite named Sputnik into orbit around the earth. It circled the globe once every ninety minutes and people were both amazed and frightened. The Space Age had begun, and the Russians got there first. A great emphasis on science and mathematics began in American schools, along with a great decline in the liberal and fine arts. Who would need music and drama and painting when the barbarians were at the gates? People were abuzz. The world had changed forever.

I didn't find out about Sputnik for three days because on Friday, October 4, 1957, at about 7:30 in the morning, something else happened. My mother died. She had been in St. Joseph's hospital in Fort Worth for nearly a month, the latest hospitalization in eight long years of battling cancer. We had known for about a year that she was, as they say, terminal. She was forty-seven years old. I was sixteen. Nothing has been the same since. My world, also, had changed forever.

Some people say time heals all wounds. They are wrong.

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