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.
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.
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.