My Mother, Myself, My Daughter, and Spock
I was woken up at seven this morning by a text from my mother informing me that Leonard Nimoy had died and that she was crying in her office. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my mother cry and I don’t have to use all my fingers. Star Trek was a big part of her life. She watched it regularly when it was first on air and when she couldn’t watch it she had a friend record it. And by that I mean the friend had a tape deck, pointed a microphone at the TV, then would describe to my mother what had been happening on the screen.
Spock was her favorite. She was a nerd, she was in honors society and wanted to be an astronaut (unfortunately she is blind without her glasses and a woman which was two big strikes against her). She also had a difficult relationship with her older sister but instead of giving her the satisfaction of an emotional reaction she’d ‘go Vulcan’. To this day she reacts to stressful and highly emotional situations by becoming very logical. She also thought Spock was cute.
I was raised in the church of Star Trek. I don’t know when I learned how to spread my fingers like a proper Vulcan, or when I first heard the words live long and prosper. They are just things that always were. My first Star Trek convention was when I was seven. It was a Nimoy/Shatner double bill. They were running late due to a delayed flight and Bay Area traffic. The poor conference head did her best to keep the crowd from getting ugly. Nimoy told stories about how Shatner would hide his bicycle. I got to stay up past my bedtime.
The end of Wrath of Kahn is still one of the few things that can regularly give my mom the sniffles. Though anyone who doesn’t feel gutted at those scenes needs their head examined.
When Next Generation kicked off it was family TV time. Other households gathered together for schmaltzy 80’s sitcoms. In my family it was a double billing of Original Series followed by Next Generation once a week.
My mother probably had a hundred of those Star Trek paperbacks. She was always reading one and her favorites always involved Spock. I did book reports on those instead of Babysitter’s Club in elementary school. I didn’t think there was anything odd about this. Normal is what you grow up with.
My mother came down to New Zealand a couple weeks before I had my daughter to help out and stayed for a few weeks after. As a former special ed teacher she has always been very big on language and reading development. On a shelf in my apartment my mother found one of her favorite Star Trek novels and after I got home she decided it should be my daughter’s first book. Not Hop on Pop or Hairy Maclary or even Peter Rabbit. A Pocket Books Star Trek novel with yellowed pages and a brittle cover. I have pictures.
I also have pictures of my kid in a science officer blue Star Trek onesie. I couldn’t manage to get her to give a Vulcan salute. At that point sitting up was still a pretty clever trick but we’ll get there. She might end up a popular girl and queen bee, or she might be a giant nerd like her parents, but either way she’ll understand the importance of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations and what it truly is to Live Long and Prosper.