Monday, June 22, 2009

frailty thy name is woman

Not in the case of my mother. She's 86 and still has a vibrance and curiosity for life that I am in awe of. I sometimes can't keep up--and that's scary.

And mom was liberated long before it became the fashion. Nothing stopped her from pursuing new experiences--and the rest of us were lucky to tag along. Smart as a whip, she graduated from high school at 16 and took a job as a secretary in a Philadelphia bank. Marriage and motherhood followed [she raised 4 teens in the 60s--and survived! My two nearly killed me.], but her real adventures began when my brothers and I were all on our own...

My parents moved to the West Indies in the early 70's and my mother started working as the right-hand gal to one of the hotel owners who happened to have her hand in all of the tourism organizations on island. As a result, my mother started travelling to events for travel agents to promote several properties on St. Croix. I got to see her in action once here in Philly--a treat to watch a master at work.

Then mom created a program that is being revived today: "Hello Tourist" teaches school children on the various Carribean islands what their homeland has to offer tourists in the way of culture and history. Its initial go round made a real difference in giving these kids a sense of pride in where they come from.

But mom wasn't done yet! From her late 60s til the present, she has travelled all over the world as a freelance travel writer. On her 80th birthday, she walked the Great Wall of China and sailed by Three Gorges before the Chinese government flooded the area by building the biggest dam ever. Eighty-one saw her in Thailand. Add to that trips to Mexico, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I was lucky enough to go with her on 3 occassions--what a blast she is to travel with.

Last year she went to school to learn web designing and created her own website to both archive her many articles and give up-to-date info on destinations around the world []. Her area of expertise, of course, is the Caribbean, having lived there for almost 20 years; but she is also very knowledgeable on Asia, Mexico and Canada. Most recently [like last week], she visited the US Virgin Islands for a writers symposium. This was preceeded by a trip to Jamaica a few weeks ago, where she took a ride on the practice track used by the Jamaican bobsled team!! there's a great picture on her website....

Like I said, I am in awe--and a little jealous. Right now, she's in better shape than I am! But she also gives me hope that you can continue to "reinvent yourself."

Not to say I don't worry like hell about what she'll try next... Most people my age are concerned about their parents assisted living situation-- I'm afraid mine is gonna fall off an elephant or something.

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