One year after he retired he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
It didn’t phase him. He took this chemo, he did his stem cell transplant. He went back to work as a consultant.
When his wife left him for an ice skating pro turned instructor, he took up chess.
When his house burned down he rebuilt it.
This is who he was.
His first career had been in fuel injectors. He had improved them.
His second career had been in fabric — bulletproof vests. He developed a material superior to Kevlar.
His third career was with NASA designing doors for the shuttles. He made them safer.
He finished up his stellar resume with a job as the CEO in a company that made lasers to create three-dimensional cross-sections of art works.
Then early one fall morning, not long after his stem cell, while he was lying in bed asleep, a red leaf fell in the White Mountains, a grain of sand blew on to a ridge in Sossusvlei, a fog obscured the San Francisco Bay bridge, a proscenium curtain closed in Makati, the sun rose over Vesuvius, and an aneurism burst in his head.
He had lived his entire life knowing things, but in that moment, a second before he perished, he saw as if in one moment, a million wonderful things that he did not understand.