Colonel Jacob Carter watched his daughter Samantha graduate at the top of her class from the US Air Force Academy. His mind drifted to the young girl she once was.
Sam had shown her brilliance even as a child. Interestingly enough, her first word -- well, after 'mama' and 'papa' -- had been 'how?' Sam had wanted to know how everything worked... Sam's mom had called him at work. Often.
"Bring a maintenance worker when you come home," she'd say.
"What did Sam take apart now?" Jacob would sigh.
"The vacuum cleaner," she's reply.
"Okay, not a problem!" Jacob would promise.
Sam would sit and watch in fascination as the maintenance man -- usually an enlisted soldier -- would put the device back together. Most of them would cheerfully talk through what they were doing at a level that five-year-old Sam could follow.
The car accident that killed his wife had caused a hard time between Jacob and his children. Mark withdrew into his grief but Sam had more 'how' questions.
"How could you do this?"
"How could you let this happen?"
"How could you have not picked her up on time?"
It took a long time for Sam to forgive him. He wasn't always sure Mark had forgiven him, but -- once he apologized -- Sam finally forgave him with her whole heart.
As Sam grew, the questions never ended.
"How can I become a pilot?"
"How can I take more courses?"
"How does that work?"
"How can I become an astronaut?"
As Jacob was transferred from base to base, Sam fiercely identified as a "military dependent" and would bristle at anyone who called her a "military brat."
"How can they call me that?" Sam would demand. ""They don't know me! I am not a brat!"
Fortunately, Sam's temper would wear out quickly, and Jacob could distract Sam by asking what she had been studying in school.
Although school had its own frustrations.
"How does she not know that?"
"How can he make me do this homework?"
"How could not give me an A?"
Preparing for the Air Force Academy helped Sam learn self discipline in a way Jacob never could teach her. The questions didn't end, but they turned focused on Sam's love for science.
"How can they not have seen the Feynman lectures?"
"How does Maxwell's equations apply to curved spacetime?"
"How can get more time in the flight simulator?"
Luckily, the Academy challenged Sam in ways Jacob never could. Sam was an amazing daughter, the Academy turned her into a amazing young adult.
He had come to terms with the diagnosis of lymphoma. Then George Hammond turned his world around -- Sam had found her own way to the stars and Jacob was thankful she could share that with him.