This post is about a woman close to my heart, who wants everyone to know you don’t have to be defined by your age. She recently toured four countries in southern Africa for her 88th birthday. That’s my mama —still doing exactly what she wants to do. So, why do I call her “Ms. Daisy”? Well, because:
- The daisy is her favorite flower;
- She is an old-school feminist; and
- The “Driving Ms. Daisy Errand.” (The errand: I flew 900 miles roundtrip from the East Coast to the Midwest, and drove 400 miles roundtrip in a borrowed car from one Midwest state to another, for the specific purpose of getting Ms. Daisy to the airport for her Africa extravaganza. I’ll leave it at that.)
Before Ms. Daisy left, I set up her gmail account and showed her how to easily access it on her tablet. She seldom uses the internet, except to order books. I told her she needed to tell us something when she arrived in Johannesburg, even if only a two-word response. I was hoping for “I’m fine,” at the very least. For practice on her tablet before the trip, I emailed Ms. Daisy photos of her granddaughter, Emily, with Cheryl and me. I expected an immediate reply, but in her own time came this:
Hi Kim Remember me? I am the computer illiterate. Anyway I enjoyed seeing my girls together. Speaking of girls…last night Julia called. While she knew that you and Cheryl were with Emily, she was surprised to hear that I was going to South Africa.
This thing exhausts me!!
I was a little nervous when she left for South Africa because it had been some years since she had traveled overseas by herself. I sent her a few emails, but didn’t get a response until this email five days into her trip:
Dear Kim, I AM HERE. No one met me at the gate. After some anxiety I proceeded to baggage and customs — not easy at all. Anyway I am here. Vantage gathered its crew for the trip to our hotel. Incidentally there are only 17 of us. I am the odd man out. Oh well! This hotel is great AND I brushed my teeth tonight. I love you all but I am exhausted from the planned experience.
I was relieved she was fine. She had so much stuff! I thought she’d lose the most important things like passport, tickets, etc. Her reference to being able to brush her teeth had to do with her fear that the water would make her sick. We heard her concerns so often that Cheryl found a special toothbrush that would get the job done without using water. OMG – her survival gadgets! She couldn’t buy enough of them. I am sure the travel catalog companies were loving her for the five months preceding her departure.
Another five days later, this email:
Dear Kim The weather has been great. The people have been great and having a wonderful experience. The animals and I are on first name basis. I am managing my food needs adequately. Don’t expect to hear from me often as places I am going to don’t all have internet facilities but all is well. Give your siblings regards from me. Lots of love mama.
Later, that same day, I received another email from Ms. Daisy:
Dear Ones, THIS is a great experience! I like the country, the people with whom I am traveling and the guide who guides us and drives us from morning to night. He seems determined to give us a wide variety of experiences. Here I sit at this ungodly hour trying to write you guys. However I am happily situated in a hotel which hosted the Queen of England when she was a girl. I must say I have been exposed to the most elegant and the most elegantly primitive: The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe [and Chobe National Park huts].Today we walked a couple of miles along the falls. Yes I have been taking some pictures. We just arrived Botswana where we had been on two or three safaris — seriously wild and deep in the Bush. Oh yes, on my actual birthday I was tracking beasts in the wild. That night the group sang happy birthday and Brian gave me a book featuring the elephants. The next night as we ate out on the verandah, I was serenaded by the staff of young Africans and presented a cake shared by all. While it was late and I am not much inclined to eat cake, only a few people noticed. Thanks everyone for your messages which I read when I came to my room that night. A special thanks to Emily whose tribute I shared with a few of my new friends.
Love to you from tired but happy me. Mama
MyLetter has mostly disappeared. Oh well!
Next: Ms. Daisy Goes on Safari – Part 2