US West Blog: Spring 2012

Traveling, May 2012

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Little Hiker Sally, 1954
SINGLE AGAIN. I will be traveling with Barbara, a friend I knew well 37 years ago when we were young, independent singles in Hot 'Lanta. Finding old pictures of those days brought back faint memories of a 25-year-old single life of dates, parties, rafting down the Chattahoochee. Today, I travel once again single--after 26 years of a wonderful marriage to a priceless man I loved.

PERSPECTIVE. Single again, but with 63 years of life experience, memories, and self-assurance. This time I have nothing to prove to anyone and no need to impress; I feel totally secure in my life and myself. What a fabulous change! (I wish I could have told that lovely young woman--me--just how incredible she was, and how loved and inspired she would be!) I tell her that now in sleepy prayer times. I speak to her to relieve the pain she carried with her into later years, those pains now dissipated, forgotten except as totems to recall how far I've come, how blessed I've been, how strong I always was. I bring her along on this trip, free of all that held her back!

I also tell her to be proud that SHE made good choices that now serve me well (e.g. saving money, sticking with a teaching career -with pension) so that now I travel well, often, and for long periods of time--my sustained dream since early family trips. See the photo of my 5-year-old hiker self standing atop a mountain in the Smokies. SHE will certainly coming along on this trip! And what a ball she'll have, let loose to fly!

I TRULY BELIEVE I CAN FLY! But seeing those old photos and seeing how trim I was (when my memory alone believed I was always heavy!) inspires me to get healthier, to keep walking, to lose the weight I've acquired during the hard times (as one who eats when I'm down, not the opposite). I want the energy those old images suggest. It's no longer about the weight, but about flying lighter, ascending to another plane of wonder and adventure.

MORE TO COME. At 63, I count the years I pray I will have, 10 good ones, maybe 20, dare I hope for a functional 30? (What irony: 37 years since Barbara and I last hung out. In 37 more, I'll turn 100! There must be a cosmic celebration in there somewhere!)

FILLING THE BUCKET. When my mom survived breast cancer in 1967 (she lived 39 more years!), she came to live in the moment. I could never comprehend her preaching while I was working...and trying to make things work. With my own breast cancer in 2000, I began my personal journey into the present. I gave up control and care taking of my husband. I let go, and let God take care of us both. Across the years of his illnesses (severe COPD and emphysema), I learned to be a care GIVER, rather than trying to TAKE care. When I got him back (after a miraculous double-lung transplant!), we both moved into each precious moment--knowing we should not have had this time!--with wonder, over-powering joy, and a sense of adventure! Amen! Five and a half years to live the bucket list until he succumbed in 2010. And now it's my job to continue this large bucket for both of us.

IT'S EASY! Traveling in my own country, culture, history. No money changing. No phone issues. No driving on the "wrong" side (which I will admit I love to do!). And Barbara made our arrangements. We're free as birds (young girls in 1970's dialect) with our own rental car and lots of time to fill

Where will we intersect?
What will stand out that we will hold on to in pictures and in memory, 37 years from now?
What will my camera and I find here to fall in love with as I have adored Scotland these many years?
Will this be a first of many times out West for me?