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Inspirational Contemporary Friendship

Unforgettable

"don't you remember?" Betty asked them. Betty Ma, founder of Sageing in Space, an organization established to prevent memory loss in aging astronomers, is lecturing her Thursday after lunch calligraphy group in the Ariane Sageing Center. The center was established to promote memory protection in veteran astronauts and space program veterans.

"You MUST remember certain things always, so guys, tell me three things that you do not ever want to forget. Anyone?"

"Come on, guys. Raise your hand if you want to share, Ah yes, Ginny. What are three things you do not want to forget?"

Ginny Blackwell, a retired astronomer from the Goddard Space Flight Center, grinning said, "One thing I don't ever want to forget is the name of my favorite artist"

"Perfect" Betty said, "that will do to get us warmed up. Now anyone else wanna share? Ah Randolph, go ahead, tell us what do you not want to forget?''

Randolph Johnson, a former launch director at Rover Operations and Drone Surveys said, "I don't ever want to forget what my favorite meal is", "Great, Randolph. Now guys are you getting the picture? Remember you can forget anything. Nobody is immune to forgetting. That's why we are living in this Center. Life here is designed to enliven our experiences of the world we live in and enshrine our favorite moments so that we will treasure them instead of forgetting them."

"OK. So today we are going to embark on our calligraphy workshop and I want everyone to make a sign that they would like to bring with them on their last journey into space. Ready?"

All fifteen of the group said YES WE ARE loudly and began moving their chairs so that they could work on calligraphy outdoors. All of them were creatively inclined and they were enjoying opportunities galore to indulge their creativity. There were improv theater groups, tapestry design classes, gardening classes, music groups, knitting, hiking, birdwatching, and calligraphy.  They had just had their Thursday blindfold lunch. During lunch, they had to wear blindfolds to discover what it’s like living with sight loss! Now they were about to begin their favorite group get-together of the week. They called it OCEOS, Our Calligraphic Expiration Of Space.

The Ariane Sageing Center had originally been set up for space program retirees to interact as they age but it had mushroomed into a conglomeration of different operations. Built on land donated by the Ariane family, the center was on a 200-acre site on a hill overlooking a lake. The breathtaking view would uplift any sagging spirit. The landscaping too was inspirational.  Its atmosphere was almost inviting individuals to put the outdoors to whatever use they wanted. There was no hint of NO SITTING OR LOUNGING HERE PLEASE. Everything from aspen to crabapple trees flourished. Hyacinth and elderberry shrubs were leaning out into the pathways almost begging for pedestrians to stop and talk to them. Although beautiful trees were everywhere, there were still lots of little nooks and crannies for sheltered havens where anyone could bring their own chairs and sit for as long as they wanted. So it was ideal for indoor or outdoor activities or group events, even for calligraphy!

Out in the nice cool sunny air, Betty said "GREAT! Today we are going to embark on a new project- to create an outdoors group session in calligraphy. As you know calligraphy is the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner. The signs are up to you to choose, they can be from your memory, something you're reading or that you pick from the materials you will find available in the art room.. Some of you might like to work out there in the garden at one of the outdoor tables there or in the music room. Remember, calligraphy for us is simply making signs about the things we care about. The issue you choose is your own, we are not going to dictate what it is. The sign you make is for you to decide, so its shape, size, colors, and details are what you choose. Action! " 

And so they begin. Ginny draws a space astronaut floating above a lunch table with a caption saying "I need more space". Carmel does one saying "Houston we might have a problem". Sylvie has one where she says "I am off to outer space".  Another one says "We Are  Beacons in Our Galaxy.

Randolph is drawing peace signs and writing HUMANITY NEEDS STAR PEACE NOT STAR WARS. After about an hour he says to the others "Remember aliens are really our space brothers who are on a new energy level and can appear to us out of nowhere." He looks around and sees Ginny. To his amazement, she seems to be in a kind of trance having a conversation with something that she imagines is there talking to her. Then Sylvie takes off their shoes and starts dancing singing  "Communicating with the heart. I am one with the air I breathe and  I am one with the fire that shines". Suddenly there is a gust of wind and out of the woods comes a lady dressed in white and walks up to Ginny. I have been waiting for years to talk to you, about your trip in 1999".

"What, mine?" says Ginny " Do you mean our mission to Epheseda in the shuttle?"

"That's exactly it," the lady in white says, " you are all still as important as THIS" and with a wave of her hand a poster board appears with a peace sign made up of beautiful stars and a photograph of Ginny pasted next to it. Everybody gasps at the beautiful graphic in front of them.  "This is you in the plan for the universe and I wanted to give you this as my contribution to your group today. I must be off now but I am always available, just call my name and I'll be there for you". With that, she walks back into the wood and disappears.

The gong sounds at the end of the class. 'Time Up, let's see what you got done " Betty looks at each of the offerings and then picks out the one that they have just been given. "This is the winner because it shows that infinity is friendly and not hopeless as everyone has thought up to now". They confess that the winning graphic is from the Lady who is hiding in the woods now. When Betty hears that it was the lady in white she gets very excited and says "we've been trying to contact her for years and now she shows up to you guys! That's wonderful! She knows that here in the Ariane Sageing Center we want you to remember the Universe wants you to stay happy as you age".

July 29, 2022 21:09

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5 comments

Tommy Goround
23:06 Aug 03, 2022

https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm123.html Ahh....I must have missed this one. First thime reading. Thank you.

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Peter Naughton
10:53 Aug 07, 2022

Thanks for the reference, Tommy. My lady in white was really a Space Sister who had landed her craft in the woods! I know I know, a bit far-fetched, but here, we're fiction writers aren't we?

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Tommy Goround
23:00 Aug 03, 2022

So lovely. I don't recall ever seeing a location of a short story in a sanitarium for people losing their memory. I very much love new locations and new vocations.. Okay the ending is not ... Resonating for me. Is this a local story? A woman in white in the woods.... I still have to look it up.

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Tommy Goround
22:55 Aug 03, 2022

Come on now... Even if I cannot come back and make another comment because my wife yells at me to do something.... You just have to give this thing a better title. I read your last story so I know this one should be good. The title is making me feel ambivalent though.

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Peter Naughton
10:55 Aug 07, 2022

ok I will come up with a better title, thanks for your helpful comments Tommy

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