Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day re-run: Capt. Mark Kelly the heavenly hubby

Happy Valentine’s Day — and isn’t that a wonderful redundancy? How could Valentine’s Day be anything but happy? This is from way back in ’11. 

On this Valentine’s Day, I’d like to salute Capt. Mark Kelly, husband of recovering gunshot victim, U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.

He’s succeeding in looking like Earths’s most steadfast husband while preparing to abandon his brain-damaged wife to go on a million-mile jaunt with six of his buddies.

Yes, every happily married couple needs a little space.

The news of her recovery since the January 8 shooting that left six dead and 13 injured has been astonishing.

That anyone could be shot through the head and suffer relatively minor injuries is either a miracle or evidence that much of the average human brain is full of lots of stupid or otherwise useless grey matter.

I don’t think that’s the case with Kelly. To me, the guy’s a genius. Clearly, he’s using his full brain.

I’m not suggesting he doesn’t love his (second) wife. He and Giffords met in 2003 at a Young Leaders Conference in Beijing.

Or so I’ve read. I wasn’t invited. Even if I had been, I’d have been unable to attend  having previous obligations at the Middle-Aged Followers Conference here in Latrobe.

Truly, it is a great love story about a very appealing couple (

Yet I can’t help but marvel at Kelly’s deft ability to maneuver public opinion into crowning him husband of the year at the very instant he’s planning to blast off from his wife’s hospital bedside to go into outer space.

I know husbands who struggle to wrangle spousal okey-dokies for long golf weekends in Myrtle Beach.

It’s a pity. I’ve had some of my best times there with the boys. We play golf, cards, get a little drunk and spend the nights enriching one dollar bill at a time the mysterious college funds of pasty-bedecked girls whose names all seem to end in the letter “i.”

When you look at it that way, it sounds almost wholesome.

The matrimonial reluctance to spend time apart baffles me. 

I’m convinced marriage benefits from more time apart -- and don’t confuse that for cynicism. I’m a man who loves his wife and his two darling daughters, one who just happens to revel in every chance he has to get the hell away from them.

Like the sky-bound Kelly, I need a little space.

Of course, so does my wife. The kids, 10 and 4, are at an age when they are acting increasingly like war-minded Romulans.

They’re driving both of us crazy. But it’s a lot easier for me to justify up and vamoosing than it is for her.

Like Kelly, one of just 65 NASA astronauts, I can always claim my credentialed travels are business-related. (“Honey, do you think I WANT to spend four days in New York City?”)

I’m sure, rather than New York, Val wishes she could board a space shuttle for a months-long mission exploring the effects of cabernet on low-gravity, stressed-out mothers.

A really long space vacation would be her dream vacation right now. Me, too. I’d love to arrange a two-week space flight for just the two of us. Instead of things like ant farms and petri dishes, we’d freight the craft with Snuggies, pillows, books, cases of wine, and the complete DVD collection of “The Sopranos” series, which we’re getting back into.

The seclusion would be heavenly.

But we had trouble Saturday arranging a babysitter for lunch and an afternoon matinee of “The King’s Speech” (loved it!). How are we going arrange two weeks of lunar day care?

The logistics would be out of this world.

So we’ll hustle through another half-assed Valentine’s Day hoping conversely the two of us can soon enjoy both more time together and more time apart.

Me, I’ll be watching in admiration as Kelly on April 19 boards the Space Shuttle Discovery for two weeks away from his healing wife, time he can spend gazing down on earth, and basking in the knowledge he’s circling a planet where millions of wives swoon, “Now, there goes a husband who really cares.”

The only way I’ll be more impressed is if the space shuttle makes an unscheduled landing for four days in Myrtle Beach.

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