I think I don’t take loss very well. Not losing, like losing a game, but losing people. I noticed my last blog post was the passing of my friend Dania. Over the weekend we all lost an American Hero – Neil Armstrong. Someone we always called Uncle Neil. You see, I’m an Armstrong too. I never met him in person, but my family did visit with his family when we moved from Michigan to Illinois back in the early 70’s. I have memories of being in their driveway in Wapakoneta, Ohio as a small child. And as a small child that’s about all I remember. I was about seven at the time. My mom knew Neil’s mom and Mrs. Armstrong sent my mom (also Mrs. Armstrong) a patch that Neil took up to space. One of those nifty Apollo 11 embroidered patches. But it is a large one and very well made. Not like the kind you get in the souvenir shop. I have one of those too for comparison.
Anyway, it was still a shock to hear the news on Saturday. Still felt weird. Like something is now missing. Even though I didn’t know him, there was always that knowing that he was a distant relation. My great grandfather or great, great grandfather was the brother or cousin of his grandfather, or great grandfather. Something like that. We do share that high Armstrong forehead. And family history has never been a strong point in my family, so that’s why I have no idea what the exact connection is. But there’s always been one. And now that’s gone.
I’m finding it odd how sad about it I am. The loss of my father made an enormous impact on me. I was 23 when he succumbed to lung cancer and it was very hard on me. I felt abandoned. I was so angry and hurt and I took it personally that he left me. In reading about Neil’s death online I stumbled upon a photo (which may or may not be real, I didn’t look much closer than a glance) that showed Neil in a casket. I immediately flashed back to my father lying there in a casket. I suppose that is normal, but it surprised me. It’s been almost 23 years since my father died. I try not to think about that much anymore.
The point of this post, rather than my sad rambling, was to post something I read today regarding Uncle Neil. It was a comment on a news story. I read a lot of them today, and the comments were making me even more sad. The conspiracy theorists, the political piling on, it was really pretty nasty. But in the fray, there was one that, while still sad, I thought was quite poignant. My hats off to the author of this comment.
I think it will be a very, very, very long time before we see that kind of individual again, maybe never. It’s not that I don’t think it’s possible, it’s just that today’s mindset is so different. I wouldn’t take anything away from those who made tremendous, and in some cases the ultimate sacrifices on 9/11, or the brave and courageous souls who defend and have defended our nation. It’s just that it’s becoming more and more of a rarity. These days people quickly become so self absorbed and fail to remember the big picture. How much money and fame they can achieve becomes the ultimate goal. They don’t want to do it for the benefit of others, be it a neighbor, city, nation, or in the case of Armstrong and the likes of him, for mankind. They want to do it for themselves. It’s no longer noble to make a sacrifice for others. It really is sad. Hopefully, it will change for the better, but probably not any time soon.
Farewell Uncle Neil. I hope I can be half as good of a person as you were.