The icy, pale blue crystals of these earrings remind me of NASA’s eyes. She was a Siberian Huskey and a loyal companion to a man named Tom. He named her after the National Aeronautics Space Administration because space exploration thrilled him.
Tom was a steelworker, who helped build the Sears Tower in Chicago, among other structures. He was also a private pilot and a skydiver. That’s how my father met him. My father was a private pilot who had a business hauling skydivers. Tom made lots of jumps out of my father’s plane.
Tom and NASA seemed made for each other. They were both strong, muscular, and compact, with piercing blue eyes, Tom’s being a couple of shades darker than NASA’s. They were both independent. NASA was protective of Tom and didn’t welcome other people or dogs into their circle. And that was fine with Tom.
NASA had an interesting life. She went almost everywhere with Tom, and when she couldn’t, she stayed with his mother.
In the early 1970s, when Tom spent a year in Hawaii working on a construction project, NASA went with him. She had to spend time in quarantine after arriving in Hawaii, but Tom wasn’t going to be without her for a year.
Tom had an apartment in Chicago, but sometimes slept in the back of his pickup truck with NASA when he came to Franklin, Wisconsin, to skydive. His truck had a topper and under the topper, he always had sleeping gear. They sometimes slept in the truck in our driveway or at the drop zone. Once when my parents offered Tom a bed or couch in our home, he chose to sleep with his dog in the back of his pickup truck.
When Tom moved to San Francisco in 1977, NASA went too. When she passed away after a long happy life, he buried her on a hill with a beautiful view.
Funny thing, I remember more about Tom than other skydivers who came to our house for meals or to have my father fix their vehicles. This is because of NASA. She intrigued me because she had a lifestyle that no other dog I’d ever known had. She was the only dog I knew of that slept on the packing table in a skydiving shack while her master went up in a plane, jumped out, and floated back to earth. She’d wait without moving, until Tom came back to repack his parachute.
And anyone who remained in the shack gave her space.