I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Family Gatherings: My family and others

Thanksgiving with Pat Ellis's family
Lots of family gatherings.  Spent time in Rochester, NY with my daughter-in-law's family celebrating the life of her father.  Then Thanksgiving in Jacksonville with Pat Ellis's family.  It is so special to be invited to join in large family events.
While I was on my way back north to attend the award ceremony at the United Nations, my daughter-in-law let me know her father, John Nicholson was in the hospital in Rochester, NY.  I offered to skip the UN ceremony and go to Rochester instead.  She and my son insisted I should go to the UN.  While in NYC, we learned that John had died.  What a loss to the world, as he was such a wonderful person and such a great father and grandfather.  (You can see just a little of this in his obituary: John's Obituary) I changed my flights so we could attend the memorial service.

John Nicholson
People came from around the world to be there at John's memorial service.  The young man from Italy, now living in London, who had been their foreign exchange student years ago was there.  College roommates were there.  Relatives from the west coast, from the midwest, from the east coast were there.  Neighbors and good friends from over the years were there.  A fitting tribute to such a wonderful person.  My life was enriched by spending time with John over the past ten years.
Morgan and Evie playing with an older cousin in NY - simple fun!
Spending time with the grandchildren and their cousins is always energy filled fun.
Liam and Henry riding the tree.
Once back in Jacksonville, I had a great Thanksgiving with Pat Ellis's family.  Such a great group of people with wonderful stories, and lots of laughter.  Not to mention the delectable food!

Families are such a gift.  The hardest part of this kayaking expedition is being away from my family and missing them so much.  One of the best parts is being invited into family celebrations with others. 
Safe Passage family - together
Spending time in Guatemala has also demonstrated the importance of family.  There, across all social levels, family is paramount.  You don't move away from your family.  When Safe Passage students graduate from high school, they don't move away from the dump community, but remain there helping to improve their community.  When a mother from the garbage dump heard that my grandchildren live in Denver and New York, while I live hundreds of miles away in Maine, she expressed her sadness for me.  How could I be happy with my children and grandchildren so far away?  It makes you stop and think about the decisions we make in our lives to follow careers around the world, rather than stay close to family.  And here I am doing that again in kayaking from Maine to Guatemala.  There is a richness in cultures where family and the local community are the priority.

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