Gabrielle Giffords’ love story with husband Mark Kelly
An unusual love story of an astronaut and a congresswoman
The man keeping vigil at the bedside of his wife, wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is himself an authentic American hero.
Mark Kelly,46, is from a West Orange,New Jersey Irish American family,a former member of the Irish America magazine top 100 and a devoted husband and father. He has a twin brother Scott who is also an astronaut.
His parents, Richard and Patricia Kelly moved from West Orange to Texas to be nearer their twin astronaut sons. Their Irish roots are in Cork and Kerry.
The twins were about to achieve a remarkable piece of American history in April.
Kelly is scheduled to lead the last shuttle mission ever to the International Space Station in April where his brother, Scott is currently one of the crew members.
It will be one of the most high profile flight missions in history, marking the end of the space shuttle program.
Whether Kelly can make it now as his wife recovers from a dreadful gunshot wound is hard to say.
He immediately flew to her bedside and was comforted by among others, President Obama who called him directly to commiserate.
Ironically, it was Gifford who was always desperately worried about her husband when he was flying . “You have to be strong and detach yourself from what could happen,” Giffords said in an interview last fall in the Daily Beast about their unusual relationship. She said lift-off was “a combination of excitement and fear,” and an “awesome experience.” She said launch and re-entry were the toughest times for her.
On his last voyage, Gifford gave Kelly her wedding ring, which he had inscribed with the words, ”You’re the closest to heaven that I’ve ever been.”
Before each space flight Kelly explained to Daily Beast they exchange intimate letters that are ”very serious, honest, open, and straight from the heart."
Giffords always writes to her husband before takeoff telling him how much she loves him, She was set to attend his launch in April and she confessed, “I’m always on pins and needles wondering, will this be the last conversation I am going to have with my husband?
Now give the awful tragedy that befell her, the roles will be reversed as Mark Kelly waits at her bedside.
The couple met on a trade mission in 2003 to China but he was still married to his first wife and she was seeing someone else. They stayed in touch and she advised him on dating . Their own first date, a year later, was an unusual one when she took him around a prison in Florence, Arizona, as she was working on death penalty issues and he got to sit in the electric chair.
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