Oletha gets some credit.
Mostly, I avoid all habits that lead to being like my mother. I don’t want my feet to crackle when I put my socks on. I hate being caught with a faraway look in the midst of family conversation that swirls unnoticed around me. I dread the “Oletha” moments when I dig through sacks, suitcases, and even the refrigerator looking for something I just can’t see, even if it is directly in front of me.
But I trace our adventurous spirit directly to her. She didn’t create websites but she self-published. She didn’t trek through Nepal, brave zip lines in the jungle or scream with glee in the river as the rapids approached; but she created the paradigm in which we can put ourselves out there.
I don’t think of Mom as someone who set out to do brave things. She was just a woman with big ideas who believed that anything was possible. She prodded her family to move west. She figured out how to support herself when she ended up on her own. She was unemployable by anyone but herself and so started various business ventures and ran each to its conclusion…profitably or not. She adopted and she adapted.
Her genes are coursing through me. I recognize her warrior spirit in my tenacity and my positive attitude that sometimes resembles denial. I see her strength in some of my attitudes and actions.
And I see all that in all of you. There is a curiosity and outward fearlessness that takes you to different countries, different careers, and different spiritual paths with inward trepidation but sureness in your own sense of accomplishment. If you decide to do, to move, to change, experiment, to learn or even to ignore: get out of your way!
Now I watch my grandchildren. The older three girls are adventurers. Whether it’s a language course in China, a boat in the Hudson River, or an exchange year across the world, they are on it and in it with both feet. Good on them! As a family we have trained them to reach beyond.
And we have Oletha to thank. Her spirit lives on!