Heading to the IFBC and Learning More About Being 93

Heading to the IFBC and Learning More About Being 93

I’m not one to travel much, but was excited about the opportunity to attend the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle recently.  My lack of travel experience led me to be unprepared for delays.  When I say delays, I’m talking about over eight hours of airport waiting time – something that no one really wants to deal with in life. When something like this takes place, the greatest thing in the world is to run into a fellow travel companion that can share your bad fortune.

After the first three hours of delays in New York, I was seated next to a woman who was heading to Seattle too.  She had lived in New York most of her life.  We spoke on the plane and discovered we had the same connecting flight.  We also discovered she had lived in a town near mine. During this course of conversation, I had told her that my eldest daughter was 23 years old.  She didn’t think I looked old enough to have a daughter that age.  Then, she told me that she is 93 years old.  I was shocked.  If I had to guess her age, I’m positive I would’ve placed her in her 60’s or early 70’s, but 93?

I watched how she kept up the pace when she walked among the crowd of irritated travelers.  Her eyes literally glistened when she spoke.  It was so obvious she had a good heart too.  I found myself becoming irritated as I watched people who felt their lives were more important than hers as they pushed past her. The history of her life must be so interesting. I’m positive she must have survived many things. Yet, these people acted as though she didn’t matter, and I felt compelled to watch out for the stampede of angry elephants.

We made a mad rush to get to our connecting flight.  We made it just in time – she went by a vehicle.  I went by foot.  However, once we arrived at a gate, we had a gate change.  Then, we had another gate change.  The time started changing on our flight.  Before we knew it, we were in for a five hour delay.

Both of us were weary from our travels.  We had been awake on east coast time.  We had already gone through a three hour delay at the previous airport. Without much else to do, we decided to get some food.  Colette informed me that she had never eaten at McDonald’s.  Out of all the places that existed in the airport, she had her eye on the infamous MickyD’s.  She told me that her husband wouldn’t eat there, so she never had anything from McDonald’s.  After finding out he lived to be 94, I thought this might have been a smart move on his part.

She had a gleam in her eye – an act of rebellion.  She stepped up to order and wasn’t sure what she wanted to get and went for the McNuggets.  As the employee was handing her a bag, I leaned over and said, “This is her FIRST time at McDonald’s, and she’s 93!”  The manager rushed in and said, “I have to give her something! What should I give her?”  The crowd unanimously yelled, “Apple pie!”  He quickly wrapped up an apple pie.  “Did she get dipping sauce?” I asked.  He asked her what she wanted, and she went for the honey mustard.

20130919_180302Colette stepping up to order despite not knowing the McDonald’s fast food way. She made a crash decision in the heat of the moment.

We sat down to eat our McDonald’s meals.  To me, it was something I did with the kids on rare occasion and not necessarily anything wonderful and fabulous.  To Colette, it was like watching a teenager sneak out late at night while on restriction.  The look on her face was priceless.

As we waited for hours, I handed over my New York Times to Colette so she could pass the time.  I went to charge my phone for a bit, came back, and spotted this:
She went back for seconds.

We should all live life appreciating small things.  Most of all, no matter how old we get, we should always be willing to try new things, meet new people, go on adventures, and not live in fear.  Colette didn’t just order a couple of meals from McDonald’s that day. She ventured out on her own across the country.  She didn’t have a cell phone.  She didn’t whine about life.  She didn’t get upset over plane changes, time changes, or delays.  She went forward with enthusiasm and with the eyes of a child seeking out new experiences.  She tried to keep up with the crowd.  She didn’t get irritated with people pushing past her.  She just lived each moment with a good heart, good conversation, and offered to share half of her apple pie and whatever goodwill she could offer.  If I ever live to be 93, I hope I’m like Colette.  Even if I never make it to that age, it wouldn’t hurt to live that way now.  Colette, I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but you are an inspiration to others in life.  Your children must be so thankful to have you as a mother, and I’m positive you have impacted many lives as you have mine.

Our society is really messed up regarding our views of the elderly.  I look at those older than me as having great life experiences that they can share.  You never know what the person has been through in life or what you can learn from them.  If you’re lucky, you might even discover their secrets to living a good life.  If you’re extremely fortunate, you may learn something about how to enjoy the little things in life no matter what kind of monkey wrenches are thrown your way.

My grandmother once told me, “Inside, I still feel like I’m sixteen.  Then, I walk by the mirror and wonder who that old woman is looking back at me.”  I think there comes a time where we all stop aging in our brain, but have a collection of moments in time that give us wisdom in our aging years.  Watching Colette take things in stride, not get irritated, and look for new opportunities for adventure made me realize that we are never too old to live life to the fullest.  Perhaps, that’s her secret to looking so much younger than her years and being 93.  Her vigor for life and kind heart shone through.  Her appreciation for the good in others was also prevalent.  Thank you, Colette, for teaching the rest of us how life should be lived.  You certainly taught me a few lessons in our delayed day to Seattle….and maybe that’s why I was blessed with delays – to spend time with a really great person who was the best delay date ever.




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21 thoughts on “Heading to the IFBC and Learning More About Being 93

  1. What a heart-warming post. Last year I went shopping with my 95 year old granny…we went for bagels and as she bit into the bagel, she started laughing…she’d never had a bagel before and was delighted with the novelty of it 🙂 What great luck you had to find this wonderful woman and share your travels together. Great post, and sorry I never got yo meet you at the IFBC.

  2. Paula

    What a heart-warming story! Thanks so much for sharing it.

  3. Beautifully written, what a wonderful post!

  4. yeah, I knew it when you sat down for breakfast and shared some of this with us. I like you.

  5. What a wonderful, heart warming journey. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  6. Pat Bernitt

    It really does put things in perspective, doesn’t it? We all could learn a thing or two from Collette. I have the patience of a flea, and I can’t imagine it improving with age. And you’re right, she looks phenomenal! Lovely blog.

  7. What a great story! And I agree – she doesn’t look 93. 🙂

  8. Courtney Woods

    What an awesome experience! This was beautifully told and very heart warming. 🙂

  9. Wow, what a great inspirational post! You are a very talented writer!

  10. This is a neat story. A commenter before me said it, but she’s got perspective. That’s probably some portion of her key to success.

    It was good to meet you at IFBC. You met great people on that trip!

  11. I really enjoyed reading your post -thanks for sharing and I’m glad you had a good experience at IFBC 😉

  12. It was lovely meeting you at the conference. this is such a beautiful, inspiring and well written post.

  13. Rick Chinn

    really nice story. That’s the Collette that I know.

  14. A beautiful story and a inspiration to us all. Thanks for sharing the story with us!

  15. Megan

    How inspiring! Thank you for sharing! You were very lucky to meet such a great lady and wise to not just pass her by like the other pluggers. She’s also wise enough to know she’s lucky to have met you.

  16. Katherine Wanamaker

    Such an inspiration. Joes’ Mom, Colette is 91 this year and still a whipper-snapper as she calls herself. The wisdom and zest for life from you gals inspires younger gals like myself. What is really important in life is what is focused on, the love of life, making a difference to others and not all of the other nonsense. I am a hat gal myself and love the one you are sporting in this photo.

  17. Christine Peckelis

    Colette is such an inspiration to live life to its fullest. And Donna is an inspiration to be more aware of those around us. How fortuitous you two lovely ladies met up – clearly you both benefitted from the meeting. Thanks for sharing a good news story!

  18. Kelly Goralski

    Great story! I can only hope that God will bless me with even a little bit of “Colette” as I continue my journey here on earth. She’s truly an inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing.

  19. The beauty of travel are those we connect with, despite all the delays you found a new friend to pass the time, enriching both your lives as you spent time together. She will forever be in you memory as the delays themselves fade away. Lovely post Donna.

  20. KC Quaretti

    What a lovely story! You and Colette should come to Florida for a visit! I’ll take you both our for gator bites:)

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