Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Family Time

by Maggie Sefton

Sunday night I returned from a fast-paced, action-packed four and one-half day trip to Florida for the very last NASA launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. I want to include some photos from that trip, so I'll wait until next Tuesday to go into specifics. I can say this, though. . .it was FABULOUS! I was thrilled and moved by the experience---not only the launch, but also the special NASA tour we took the next day.

But the Florida trip also offered our family a chance to gather together for the first time in ten years. Yes, it's been ten years since we got EVERYONE together for any occasion---holidays, graduations, whatever. The main reason we haven't been able to gather mom, dad, daughters Serena, Christine, Melissa, and Maria together in so long was the youngest, Maria, was an officer in the US Navy for nine of those ten years. Except for short assignments for specialized courses or training, she was assigned abroad----serving aboard the USS KITTY HAWK aircraft carrier in the Pacific for two years at the start of her career, then Japan, Iraq and other Middle East locations, then Germany. Whenever she had a chance to come stateside, it didn't coincide with an opportunity for the clan to gather. Until now.

And was it fun to have everyone together in one place again, laughing, all talking at the same time, and sharing this very special experience Serena was able to arrange for us. All of the astronaut family guests stayed at the same large hotel complex which made it easy to gather with others for dinners and lounging at the pool after hours. Florida did not disappoint and provided hot and humid July weather. :)

But the best weather of all was the surprise on Friday morning when Atlantis was able to launch after two days of weather warnings. What a treat!

Will you be getting together for any family gatherings this summer?
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