It’s not entirely common for an astronaut to announce his retirement from NASA and be awarded a Spaceflight medal for returning safely home from a recent mission only to be upstaged by his wife simply because she showed up to the ceremony.
But not every couple is Captain Mark Kelly and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
And, so, Giffords’ mere appearance during Monday’s ceremony in Houston rendered any other news from the ceremony moot.
The Congresswoman received a standing ovation upon entering the ceremony in a wheelchair. As ABC News notes, “her hair was much shorter than in previously published photos.” But, it was the little details of the night that make this story — the culmination of medicine, good doctoring, hard work, luck and rehabilitation — truly moving.
There was Giffords chatting and smiling with the crowd, holding her husband’s hand throughout the evening, standing up and then hugging and kissing her husband when he received his medal, laughing with others. All signs that point to Gifford’s having a miraculous recovery from the January 8th shooting that nearly left her dead.
The motivation for Kelly’s retirement from NASA, which will be effective October 1st, is to spend more time with his wife.
“As life takes unexpected turns we frequently come to a crossroads,” he wrote in a message posted on his Facebook page. “I am at this point today. Gabrielle is working hard every day on her mission of recovery. I want to be by her side. Stepping aside from my work in the Navy and at NASA will allow me to be with her and with my two daughters. I love them all very much and there is no doubt that we will move forward together. After some time off, I will look at new opportunities and am hopeful that one day I will again serve our country.”
Kelly and Giffords are even planning on publishing a memoir with the assistance of writer Jeffrey Zaslow, who helped pen autobiographies for Randy Pausch’s million-selling The Last Lecture and Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s Highest Duty. Inspirational stuff.