“Are you sitting down, Dad?”
We are out of town and it was our oldest son on the phone. Those weren’t words we wanted to hear. But Jake knows us well enough to realize that the news of Leonard Nimoy’s death would hit hard.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know about Spock and Kirk and the Starship Enterprise. Watching Star Trek reruns with my daddy is one of my earliest memories. I remember trying to hide my tears when we watched Spock’s death scene when The Wrath of Khan was televised—it was the very first time television made me cry.
I’ve cried many times today thinking about Leonard Nimoy and his impact on me and so many others who love the Trek Universe. Nimoy once said: “You know, for a long time I have been of the opinion that artists don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. You don’t necessarily know what kind of universal concept you’re tapping into.” Gene Roddenberry may have created Star Trek but it quickly took on a life of its own and for most of us the actors became inseparable from their characters. That was something Nimoy–who famously penned a memoir entitled I Am Not Spock–didn’t always appreciate!
The Shollys aren’t just casual fans. This is the first year since I have known John that he did not ask for a Star Trek calendar for Christmas (just because he has about every picture there is). Before our house burned down we had an enviable collection of Trek memorabilia–decorative plates, action figures, a replica of the Enterprise, a tricorder–and over a hundred books (we still have these, although they are soot-stained). John has met most of the actors from the original series at conventions, and we are currently watching The Next Generation episodes from beginning to end each night with the kids (and plan to rewatch the original series next–it will be a poignant exercise now).
This, by the way, is my favorite Spock moment ever:
Leonard Nimoy was gracious enough to reprise the role of Spock in The Next Generation and in the reboot movies. Eventually he was able to say: “Spock is definitely one of my best friends. When I put on those ears, it’s not like just another day. When I become Spock, that day becomes something special.” And it was special for all of us. Ambassador Spock is legendary even in his own universe, and his appearance on the screen never fails to thrill. Even just mentioning his name in an episode confers a certain gravitas. It hurts to think there will be no new appearances to look forward to.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.