Years of Change


7/9/20233 min read

The next few years aboard the Nomad felt like a time-lapse, seasons of our lives passing in the blink of an eye. Some days were filled with laughter, others with melancholy. As Gramps' memory faded, each day was an adventure - a quest to reacquaint ourselves with a man whose spirit was becoming increasingly elusive.

I remember a night when Gramps almost opened the airlock, a misguided midnight wander that nearly ended us all. But Ravager was there, ever vigilant, pulling him back from the brink of disaster.

Despite our best efforts, it became evident that Gramps needed more than we could provide. Our bank account was a painful reminder of our predicament, as the funds required for a proper care facility were far beyond our reach. But, as he had many times before, Ravager came up with a plan.

Augmented reality elder care. These facilities provided a virtual world for the elderly at a fraction of the cost of traditional care homes. No nurses, but caretakers could join them in their virtual journey. Ravager would be Gramps' caretaker. He pledged to stay by his side, to meet him in this alternate reality, for as long as it took.

So, that's what we did. For two years, Gramps lived in this world, riding horses, rustling cattle, and eating under a virtual sky full of stars. He met Ravager every day, sometimes recognizing him, other times seeing a stranger. Some days, they were the best of friends. Some days, Gramps shot Ravager out of fear or confusion. But Ravager would always load right back up and set Gramps straight. For the life of me I don't know how he did it. All I knew was the why: Ravager, despite his flaws, loved this old man and nothing is more simple or complicated than love.

In the meantime, I continued to mine, staying close to Gramps and Ravager's location. I was able to earn enough to keep Gramps comfortable and our ship running. Every few weeks I'd make my way back to the facility, to pay Gramps dues and to join them in this virtual world that Gramps would unknowingly create each day. Sometimes I questioned if we were doing right by him. But seeing him ride up with that giant smile on his face each day, I knew there wasn't anything else we could have done that would bring that too him. And somedays weren't just good, they were great. As time went on, Gramps would remember things as if he were still in his 20's, living with his beautiful wife and recalling memories he never could recall above the Nomad. It also lead to many days of Ravager needing to settle Gramps down because he couldn't seem to get back to the life he knew. It was a constant battle and one that Ravager never wavered from. He didn't know it, but I learned more about who I wanted to be as a man during this period, more so than any other time in my life.

But one day, Gramps didn't wake up. He had slipped away quietly in the middle of a night under a blanket of digital stars.

When Ravager stepped back onto the Nomad, two years had passed since he'd last touched a ship's control panel. He looked older, wearier, but there was a sense of calm about him, a quiet acceptance of the years that had passed.

The adjustment would take some time, but while Ravager had been away, I'd been busy too. I had a plan - a plan that I knew would change Ravager's life forever. A plan to bring back the adventurer in him, the one I remembered from before all this happened. What Ravager needed was to find purpose again. A purpose that didn't involve death, disease or despair. And I knew where he would find it. A legit 2nd chance at life.