Tuesday, August 11, 2009

From Tia Leony to Buzz Aldrin

A few weeks back Tia Leony came to visit us from Peru along with Kike, Carolina and Enrique. During the final hour of the flight Tia Leony had a headache, it became more and more severe. Once at the airport, they whisked her to the hospital. Turns out she had experienced a aneurysm. By the time the doctor got to her, she had slipped into a coma. She had suffered sever brain damage.

Leony's eldest son, Juan was the only son or daughter with a visa issued by the USA, so he flew up and went directly to the hospital from the airport to be with his and authorzie taking her off of life support. His family should be proud of him.

Over the next few days, the family stayed with her. Lina, age 81 spent two nights with her sister. At that age, sleeping in a chair is very rough. Carmen stayed with Leony every night and Lila spent the last night with her and was holding her hand as she slipped from this world to the next.

The same day Leony passed away, I had planned to go to the USS Hornet in Alameda. They were having a special cerimony celibrating the 40th anniverisary of Apollo 11. After speaking, he was going to sign books. The moon mission was very special to me. As a young boy, I had watched each televised Apollo blast off with my dad. Listening to Walter Cronkite and like most little boys, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. Some things are bigger than going to the moon. Tia Leony was one of them. Despite being urged by Carmen to go to the book signing, I could not out of respect for a great lady, who had touched all of our lives in such a wonderful way.

The following weekend, we had the memorial service at St Calistic. Both Lila and Carmen got up to do a reading. Immediately, Lila started to break down and cry. Carmen urged me to go up and comfort her, but as I watched, I could see that she was struggling to get control and so I waited. She did get control and finished the reading. At the end of the mass, Lila got up to speak about Tia Leony in English. Carmen went up after her and spoke in Spanish. They could not have done a more perfect job. The entire family was very proud of them and I am very proud of everyone in my family.

As for Tia Leony, she was 79. She spent her last concious day with plesaant thoughts anticipating her visit. She endured pain for a very short time. She was surrounded by family and never left alone. Her passing was painless and very quick. We should all be so lucky. At the memorial service, that over 30 people attended to pay respect to a little old lady, thousands of miles from her home, who had only visited here once. She brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, may she rest in peace.

Last week, I was looking at Twitter reading postings from Buzz Aldrin. I decided to visit his website again. Turns out he added some additional book signings. Two in California, one last Saturday in Torrance at 2pm and the other next Thursday in Santa Barbara. Apparently they were recently added. I told Carmen about it and she encouraged me to go. I asked Lila if she was interested in going and she said yes, so on Friday evening we decided to go. I made hotel arrangements for Saturday night and we left at 6:00am the next morning.

We ran into traffic, and instead of arriving 2 hours early, we were only one hour early. We bought our books, and got our wrist bands that put us in the second signing group. We went to where seats had been set up for the event and got the last two seats that were still together.

Buzz, got a wonderful standing ovation. At 79, he looks great, is sharp as a tack and a very good speaker. After his talk, we got in line, got our books signed and our pictures taken with Buzz. I wondered if I were to step on the foot of the man that stepped on the moon, would that mean that I had stepped on the moon too?

That evening, Lila and I had dinner at Diana Cobo's house and got to meet her family. Diana had been on the swim team with me at Charter Oak High School and was the first woman to letter varsity in mens swimming. I thought she would be a good role model for Lila. Lila was initially very leary of meeting people from my school, but after she admited that Diana was very cool.

Diana's daughter Zoe, was pregnant. In fact she was due that exact day. The baby (Logan) was good enough to not be born so that we could visit Diana. Logan was born on Monday. Mom and son are doing very well and all are healthy.

Sunday we drove back and stopped to have lunch with my brother Dave. It is the first time we have been with Dave anywhere near his birthday in quite some years. We gave Dave his present. An authographed book by Buzz Aldrin. I think he really liked it. Lila and I took turns driving back. We stuck to a very strict budget on this trip and we both really enjoyed it.