Decades ago, electromechanical designer Maury Forrester was under contract to help NASA put a man on the moon.
Now, he’s working at a school in Knoxville, Tennessee as a janitor—but despite the humbling circumstances that got him from space exploration to where he is now, Forrester wouldn’t change a thing.
In 2014, the former space travel engineer suffered something similar to a stroke. And although doctors seem to agree that it wasn’t a stroke specifically, they do agree on one thing—it wasn’t good. Whatever it was, it caused severe loss of cognitive function, leaving Forrester tasked with re-learning things he’d known all his life and taking a huge step back from his previous job qualifications.
At one point in his life, he’d been designing “crucial launch components” for the Apollo and Saturn space programs, helping to get man from the ground to the sky and beyond. His name may not be prominently featured in the history books, but he was still an important part of one of America’s crowning achievements.
Now, he found himself accepting work mopping floors and emptying wastebins for young children.
It wasn’t an easy transition, for sure. Forrester explained that he was slightly humiliated at first, taking on such a drastic step back in employment after having such an impressive resumé.
Over the months that followed, though, something began to change. Forrester realized that the children were friendly and kind, and he started to feel like he was a part of the community instead of someone taking a low-skilled job he didn’t initially want.
The job stopped feeling like a source of exercise to keep him busy, and started to feel more like something he enjoyed doing.
Now, Forrester has admitted that he doesn’t think he would even want to go back to his old job if he could.
“They’re happy to see me and I’m happy to see them,” Maury said. “I’ve gotten to care very much for them.” Forrester even explained that some of the students have told him that they love him—and he feels the exact same way.