There has been a lot of death recently. Robin Williams died, and then yesterday Lauren Bacall died. Two other actors also died. But no one really knew them so I guess they don’t count in the rule of three. But today my Grandfather, Dr. R. Edward Nather, died. He was 88 years old. He was an Astrophysicist. He was a professor for most of my life at the University of Texas and he discovered many things about the stars above our heads. He worked with many great people, some you may have even heard of, Like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. He didn’t seek notoriety in the traditional sense. He was never on TV or anything like that. But he leaves behind quite a legacy in the Science area. He helped develop the Whole Earth Telescope, or WET. It’s pretty cool.
The biggest impact he had in my life was of course my mother. The fact that she is his daughter has always been impressed upon me. I consider her to be one of the greatest people I know and I was sure that at least half of that came from him. Her smile and wit and her passion were similar to his, except hers is for Cinema and his was for the Cosmos. The conversations I did have with my Granddad were intense and well though out. It was like playing verbal chess with a true master. I told him a few months ago that I was pretty sure that he would never die, that he in fact might be a superhero born of genius and radiation exposure. He liked that theory. It gave him a good laugh. He didn’t get to meet my son’s in person but they sang “Happy Birthday” to him over the phone and told him they loved him. I don’t know if they will remember that down the line but I will never forget it.
To be honest I didn’t really know my Grandfather all that well. I saw him a total of 4 times in my entire life. He was like that. Not there but everywhere. Even though I didn’t physically see him often he always had a huge influence on my life. When I was young I was fascinated with the stars. He sent me my first telescope. I still have it. Every time I have gazed into the heavens I have thought of him. What he would see when he looked up. What the universe looked like through his huge telescope and what secrets did he know about it. I have never stopped looking up. Never stopped wondering what is out there, where we came from and what it all means. Now that he will be returned to stardust himself, I hope he finds a happy home, there amongst his beloved stars.