An Auntie Lesson. You never know who you’re going to meet, what will inspire you, or leave you thinking about your own life. Be open to the possibility of meeting those whose paths you cross…you never know.
This is such a story.
I recently traveled around the west coast of British Columbia with my husband. We had no reservations or plans and were content to land wherever we did.
One night, we tripped upon this place called John Henry’s–a place right on the ocean–four RV spots and a couple of cabins. We were the only people staying in the campground though we ended up staying for five nights. It was peaceful and beautiful…it was a perfect spot.
Located on the edge of the small coastal village of Garden Bay, we watched the sunset and then lit our propane fire to enjoy the end of the summer evening.
On our second day there, a sleek brand new RV pulled in and sat idling as though the driver was deciding where to park. With the limited spots, there wasn’t much of a decision to make.
As it turned out the driver was an older woman traveling alone with her dog. She needed help to park the RV. My husband, Michael, jumped in and did it for her.
Her name is Gabriella. She came from a city not far from Vancouver. Her dog’s name is Bhupinder, but she calls him Boopie.
As she set up camp, we watched and let her know we were nearby if she needed help. Another couple joined our small group of campers. Later we went together to the small dock to watch the sunset and admire the view.
We chatted and chased the dogs (now three of them) until it cooled so much we gathered around the propane fire for dinner and warmth.
I learned a lot about Gabriella that evening.
She’s 75 years old and loves to travel. Her husband died of ALS (as did my dad–it a terrible, terrible disease), and I knew then just how strong this woman was.
She’s lived her life with her now late husband, a daughter, and one son. She always had dogs, along with a positive attitude toward living. Gabriella was a bright light that night.
We found out she rented and drove that huge RV through narrow winding roads that made me nervous as a passenger. She didn’t hesitate to explore off the highway. I wondered if I would have the courage to drive that big rig and go where the wind blew me. I wasn’t so sure.
She told me that just the day before, she ended up at a dead end with no place to turn around. It took her over 40 minutes to inch her way back and forth constantly getting out to check the vehicle’s back end–but she did it–she turned it around and went on her way.
She persevered and continued to push forward.
It was evident that Gabriella wasn’t afraid to live–to take chances. She calculated her risks and she took them. She’s been all over the world and is anxious for covid to go away so she can continue.
She doesn’t wait for a companion but goes it alone and experiences the culture and the food. Again I wondered if I had her tenacity. She didn’t go on tours or join groups she went by the seat of her pants and as she said, as cheap as possible.
That night by the fire, we shared our chow mein, and she, her bratwurst. As we finished our meal, she told the story of being a little girl in Germany after WW11. She remembers being told by her mother to pick leaves and needles from the trees to add to the spaetzle.
“We pretended it was spinach with our noodles,” she said.
That evening around the fire she told tales of loss and of triumph. She took it in stride and smiled often. I feel blessed to have crossed her path as I’m reminded that I’m only limited by my own mind.
Go live your life to the best of your ability. This is the lesson of Gabriella.