Monday, July 18, 2011

My husband is a keeper

by Stephanie Osborn

I just returned from Libertycon, one of several major SF conventions in Chattanooga TN. There, I was delighted to be this year's Science Guest of Honor. These are good people, down-home, loving and friendly. As usual, they not only ran my standard bio in their program book, they also asked some people to give them their stories about me. Due to some crossed wires, they got two: one from my good friend Sara Harvey, and one from my husband, Darrell Osborn.

Now, Darrell and I have been married quite awhile, and like most married couples of long standing, we know we love each other and that's that. The busyness of life and the knowledge of belonging - as well as some reticence on both sides to be able to say the things that we feel deepest - means that the knowing is felt, not said.

Until the convention. And then my dear husband laid it all on the line for everyone to see. And I am so proud I can't stop reading it. So I'm going to share it with the world:

Let's start at the beginning. Decades ago, before many of you were born, my friend Danny and I were walking through the theater building on the campus of Austin Peay [State University] in Clarksville, TN. We were passing through the "Green Room" on our way to the stage when we saw an attractive blonde sitting on the couch. We looked at each other and then did what any red-blooded theatre geek would do. We hit on her. That was the first time I met Stephanie Gannaway. She was finishing her last year at APSU and preparing to graduate with a triple major in Math, Physics, and Chemistry. She was also picking up minors in Geology and Computer Science. My first thought was, "At last, someone I can talk to."

Fast forwarding a couple of years finds us married and living in student housing on the campus of Vanderbilt in Nashville. Stephanie was working on a Masters in Astronomy and I was creating havoc in the Live Entertainment Department at Opryland [back when it was a theme park -Steph]. One day word came down that Carl Sagan was coming to give a talk. You've got to remember, at this time Carl Sagan was a science rock star. Everyone knew "Cosmos" and he was a regular on Carson's Tonight Show. We later find out that Max, one of her professors, and Sagan were college buddies. The talk was great and we went to reception afterward. We progressed through the greeting line until we reached Max and Sagan. Max introduced Stephanie as one of the two astronomy graduate students. As Stephanie shook his hand, Max leaned over and whispered to Sagan, "She's one of the good ones." Sagan gave a knowing little smile and nod. That was our Sagan moment. Although brief, I think that short phrase and nod meant more to her than any of the degrees she had gotten.

A few decades have passed and so has Sagan. Now Stephanie has moved from science and her involvement in the space program to its symbiote science fiction. I have no doubt that the time will come again when she will stand before some sci-fi writer rock star and once again hear the words, "She's a good one." (That reminds me of the time we ran into Ray Bradbury; a story for another time.)

Last year I re-connected with Danny. He's now an Associate Dean at the University of Memphis. That's a great accomplishment, but I got the girl.

-Darrell "Doc" Osborn

Yep. I always knew Darrell was a keeper. <3

-Stephanie Osborn