Linenger's Letters to his Son

April 27, 1997
"
Happy Russian Orthodox Easter"

Dear John:

Just got off the radio with Mommy. She tells me that I will hardly recognize you, you’ve gotten so big. That must mean that you have ceased to do your “spit the food out” trick. Great news.

I also talked with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexei II. His role in the church is similar to that of the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church. Today is the day that Easter is observed in Russia, and he wished the crew a blessed Easter, a safe journey, and good luck on our upcoming spacewalk.

Then he just sort of chatted, normal like. He knew my name; asked how Jerry was doing, I told him I was listening and doing just great, he said he didn’t realize that I spoke Russian, and at that point I realized I didn’t know the Russian equivalent of “your excellency” and so I replied “da, nemnoga” (yes, a little--don’t want to fib to the Patriarch). Afterwards, I did a pretty good rendition of the resurrection as I floated away from the headset toward the ceiling.

We couldn’t find any eggs to boil, but we did have a relaxing day. This was the first time since I’ve been up here that I actually took a day off from work. Read a few short stories from a book entitled Bad Trips. Someone, I think a member of Shannon Lucid’s family, had a good sense of humor when selecting that book to send to the space station. Stories of being stranded in airports, trekking through deserts with water in short supply, flying through icestorms, or worst of all, being dry and comfortable, but stuck on a tourbus with a boring guide who won’t shut up.

Understand that the Space Shuttle Atlantis was moved out to the launch pad. Final preparations underway. I talked to the STS 84 crew and they said that they completed their final integrated simulation (people in mission control-Moscow, mission control-Houston, and the crew in a shuttle simulator all communicating and “rehearsing” the docking--with lots of malfunctions thrown in to keep it interesting) and are ready to fly. I am ready to open the door when they arrive.

Happy Russian Orthodox Easter, John. I’m passing along some of the blessings I received from the Patriarch to you and Mommy, and adding a prayer of my own.

Goodnight. Sleep tight, my little guy. See you in a wink.

Love,

Dad.

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