It has been a few months since my father, James Lee Chen, left this earthly world and not a day goes by that I do not think of him. It is the little things that remind me of him, finding a PRS Signature event pass from a decade ago, an event we went to together. Or walking around a store last weekend and seeing all the Father’s Day signage, gifts, and cards. Or this morning when I was scrolling the news feed on my phone and this article popped up. Sometimes the feeling is fleeting, sometimes I cry, and sometimes I share with my family on our family text chain. This rare alignment of all the planets in the night sky is certainly something my father would have talked to me about, and something he would have shared with a child-like passion that somehow he retained after decades of looking up. I envy that passion he had for his interests and hobbies as there is little in my own life that gives me that sense of awe that he found and nurtured with Astronomy. I am sure that in his final professional role as the President of the Shenandoah Astronomical Society he would have organized a viewing through one of his many telescopes on his brand new backyard deck. This is where I get lost in thought sometimes and when I cry the most, thinking about those things he would have done if he were still with us today.
Astronomy is something my father loved throughout his life. I recall him taking me to star parties when I was young. We traveled to Big Bear Lake for Riverside and camped up in Vermont at Stellafane. I remember going to the telescope store as a kid where my dad shared his passion with shop owners and customers alike as I bounced around playing with everything and feeding my curiosity. He continued to spend time in the community and in telescope stores long after I grew up. In fact, one of those shops, Hands on Optics, was owned by his best friend, Gary Hand, who is also my godfather. When we spoke on the phone he would always tell me about this customer or that customer, large sales and the accessories and books he was able to package with the purchase. He was all about educating others and passing on his knowledge and excitement. I miss those calls with him. In more recent years, the nature of those calls shifted to me often complaining about work but he would always have good advice to share. In between complaints he would always share what he was up to, and it often revolved around astronomy, taking his scopes out, and his plans for the club he became a part of in Winchester, VA.
This post is hopefully the first of many that I author on this site. It will serve as an outlet for me to express myself when the feelings become so intense I need to get it out. These are my memories, written for me, but if others can get some value from my thoughts, words, and the memory of my father then I share them publicly, proudly.
If you are reading this and look upwards from June 17 through the 27th to observe this rare alignment of planets, not to be seen again until 2040, please take a moment to remember Jim and the legacy he left behind, a legacy I only hope I can honor.