My parents sent me a present this Christmas, it came with a card. I think it is great when a card is attached to the present, especially when the card provides a little teaser for what is inside. This kind of heightens the anticipation. On the front of the card it said: Life, Love, and Family… The things that really matter are as simple as ever. Inside, my Dad wrote a little note: “Been saving these all these years. Suppose it’s time to pass them along and to wish you a very merry Christmas. Love Dad.”
My first thought was, could it really be?
Like all remarkable presents this one has history. I was born in the early sixties, I happen to be the eldest son of my grandfathers eldest son. First kid. My grandfather was a remarkable man. His name was, Clyde Netherton, Lt. Col, USAF. He worked at NASA which made him an instant hero to me. As a child I didn’t really understand the scale and depth of what went on at NASA, but I do remember being excited about getting mail from him. On the day of each mission, my grandfather would send me a letter with information about the launch. The letter was postmarked with the date of the launch and sent from Cape Canaveral in Florida. When I received these letters I was too young to really appreciate the importance of the events, with the attention span of a beagle puppy, I didn’t have time to contemplate such things. Fortunately my parents were much more far sighted, they kept each letter and mission patch my grandfather sent me.
On Christmas morning I opened the present my parents sent me from California. Inside was a shadow box with NASA patches, letters my grandfather sent me over the years, and a photo of him in his USAF uniform taken sometime during or just after WWII. I have never been so touched by a gift in my life. It was at that moment that I realized that he sent me, by name, each letter. I didn’t remember that little detail, I just assumed that they were sent to my Dad and he let me look at them. Funny how memory works. Along with these letters there was one which he sent me on the year of my graduation from high school.
April 14th 1981
You are my eldest of 9 grandchildren and will benefit and be influenced by the events at the last few days sooner than the rest. It will be an exciting time. After a long delay the launch here went smooth. we expect the landing at Edwards to be the same. — Love Grandpa Netherton.
The 15 letters date from March 1969 to April 1981 and include many Apollo missions, Skylab missions, and the first space shuttle launch. The shadow box also includes original mission patches from Apollo II, Apollo IX, Apollo 14, and the Space Shuttle.
Mom, Dad, thank you so much for sending me this forgotten history. I should’t say forgotten, I have always known that you had these letters, I just didn’t realize until I opened the present how important they are to me.
My last memory of my Grandfather was when he came out to England to visit my wife and I shortly after the birth of my son. Thank you Dad for sharing in your fathers history. Someday I hope to leave my son something to touch his heart as much as this has touched mine.