Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Wink of a Rainbow

Kermit the Frog sings, “Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side?” I like to think of my dad “just on the other side”. Dad was a scientist, dreamer, stargazer, rainbow chaser and photographer. Throughout his life he had a childlike wonder about the expanse of the universe. Whether it was staring at a night sky from our backyard, a national park or from the dock of our cabin on Hunter Pond, or chasing rainbows after the rain, dad had a way of creating awe in the beauty and wonder of this small home we call earth. It was no wonder that on the day of his death double rainbows appeared in the sky above his home and in the skies above his family members from Chicago to South Carolina and throughout New England.
There have been moments during the months since his death that I have caught a glimpse of a rainbow or looked up at the night sky and felt my father’s presence break through the numbness of grief and whisper in my ear, “be in awe of the world you live – don’t miss a moment.”

No moment has been quite as strong as this past weekend when I took my mother and sister to the Granite State Story Swap in Rye, New Hampshire to hear Jay O’Callahan tell his story, “Forged in the Stars”.  Jay was the first storyteller my parents ever took me to see – my father adored his stories!
“Forged in the Stars” is an amazing celebration and love story of the 50 years of NASA. Beautifully told and masterfully crafted it is a tale that holds you firmly in its grasp for a life changing 75 minutes (rarely does anything hold my attention for that long).
As I listened to Jay tell the story of Christa McAuliffe and The Challenger, tears streamed down my cheeks as I thought of my father the science teacher and how much he would have loved to fly into space. It did not surprise me to look to my right and see my mother and sister both wiping their tears away.
With those tears still streaming down our cheeks we walked out of the building and cast our eyes on the ocean my dad so loved to sail. We looked up at the cloudy skies and much to our surprise caught a quick glimpse of a rainbow. It was as if dad was sending us a wink from heaven to say, “I was there . . . I heard . . . I was with you . . . be in awe of the world you live – don’t miss a moment.””
Seven days later, I am still in awe. I am awed by the power of story to bring science, imagination, love and loss together and leave me dreaming of the wonderful expanse of the universe. I am awed that even in the vast expanse of this universe I can still feel the close presence of my father in the words of a story and the wink of a rainbow.
(c) Martha Reed Johnson 05.11.2014