Saturday, July 20, 2013

Moon Landing

Today marks the 44th anniversary of man walking on the moon.
It is a historic date and a landmark event that people today still use as a standard or a call for national action on an issue as in "if we put a man on the moon then why we can't we......."
I think most people remember where they were when the moon walk happened.
With all the lights off in the living room of my parents beach cottage, my siblings, our parents and I watched the incredible, once-in-a-lifetime event live on television with the rest of the world.  We knew it was something very important because we were allowed to stay up and watch it and no one was allowed to talk. 
The televised black and white picture of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin slowly descending the ladder from their NASA module to the surface of the moon was so grainy you couldn't always tell what was happening but you didn't dare move your eyes away from the screen because you didn't know what was going to happen next.
Many decades later, the moon event has additional significance for me because my late husband, Thomas O'Toole, was a reporter for The Washington Post at that time and he wrote one of the insightful front page stories describing the exciting yet tense moon event.
Photo Courtesy of NASA
While it has been nine years since his death, the anniversary of this moon event brings him back to me ever so clearly.  I think this is because he was a very talented workaholic who devoted almost every waking moment to learning and knowing everything he could about NASA and its space program.  He was fascinated by science and all that was associated with space and the race to put a man on the moon.
I asked him many times to describe for me what that day was like and what it was like to write the story as it was happening.  I loved to listen to him tell and retell the details of the newsroom atmosphere and what was going on in terms of getting the newspaper printed.  It was a tremendous amount of pressure and truly an example of deadline writing and reporting.
I write about him today because I -- and I'm sure others -- invest a variety emotions into special days whether those days are birthdays or anniversaries of weddings, deaths, or other special events.  Acknowledging my feelings about these special days is just one step of many that I have been taking to rebuild my life, our son's life and to discover new resources strengthening my resilience.
Writing about my feelings helps me sort through and process whatever it is that is going on in my brain and in my heart.  I also write about my feelings as a way of reaching out to others and letting them know they are not alone in the complicated and unexpected things they feel on their grief journeys.
There are many ways to express your feelings and in time you will find the right one for you.  Some people need to talk their feelings out while others prefer quiet projects like painting or photography.
I appreciate and adore all of my wonderful readers and today thank you very much for allowing me to share the feelings about my husband that caught me off guard and took my breath away on this special anniversary.
I tried to find my husband's story from July of 1969 but when I Googled for it, this is all I could find:


  1. Mary Kate, thank you for sharing a beautiful moment. I was sitting the couch with my great-grand mother dazzled by the historical event on TV and awe-struck as she began to tell her life story. She was "courted" in a horse and buggy. She lived through the Industrial Revolution. Witnessed the advent of the automobile/automation. She lived through The Depression, WWI, WW2, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. What an amazing life!

  2. What an amazing life indeed! Love this story about your great grandmother. You're lucky to have her!