PENINSULA ZOOMERS: Every woman has a story

Peace Arch News columnist April Lewis recounts conversations she's had, and people she's met, on recent road trip.

I am woman, hear me roar…

I am strong, I am invincible.

To be honest, I haven’t been doing too much roaring lately. I consider myself to be a strong woman, but I don’t pretend to be invincible. Perhaps I am mellowing in my dotage.

As much as I enjoy the company of men, I love the easy-going and natural conversations I have with the amazing women I know. And that includes conversations with complete strangers; women I met on a recent road trip down the coast.

People love to tell me their story.

Wanting to have an all-American mom-and-apple-pie kind of experience, I seek out diners where I can sit up at the counter.

It is there at the Country Cousin Café in Centralia, Wash., where I meet Pat, a striking widow of a certain age, sitting beside me.

Out of her mouth comes the iconic one-liner, “I’ll have what she’s having!” from the movie When Harry Met Sally.

As we munch on our identical salads, she tells me the interesting story of her retired life which includes a garden she lovingly tends.

Back in the car, the radio is playing This One’s For the Girls by Martina McBride.

Over a Cobb salad and a glass of Pinot Noir in Ashland, Ore. – home of the Shakespeare festival – our waitress, Rita, engages me in a riveting exchange about the qualities and characteristics of Oregon’s finest grape.

Cheryl, the receptionist at the family-owned hotel in Williams, Calif. speaks about the Italian family who owns most of this small town.

And who can forget Cidi, who I meet in a grocery store in Sonoma. She takes delight in sharing her work history in the wine business with me as I deliberate over which Chardonnay to purchase. She recommends the buttery Rombauer.

And friendly Wanda, from Calistoga, who greets me every morning at breakfast with a smile and colourful banter. She is proud of the fact that, at 75, she walks daily and takes no medications. I also learn about how many husbands she’d had.

Yes, I met some amazing women on my short journey to the States, but the most utterly fascinating and powerful woman I happen upon is in Yachats on the Oregon coast.

She has a formidable, omnipotent presence. She commands attention and is awe-inspiring. And beautiful.

Her name? Mother Nature.

There she is, in her natural, splendour with her coat of azure and turquoise blue. Giant, turbulent, noisy waves crashing unapologetically against the shore.

Now that is one hell of a gal!

And there are three more remarkable women I should like you to meet… in person.

One is a woman who is born into a life of privilege only to become a closet alcoholic. She is Helen Burnham, co-founder of Avalon Recovery Centres for Women. The second is a published author, Maggie de Vries, whose sister is one of Robert Pickton’s victims.

The third is a six-foot striking blonde who is a social activist and sexual-health advocate. Her name is Velvet Steele, a transgendered woman.

And they all have an incredible story to tell of resilience in overcoming adversity.

Come meet them at our CARP event on Sunday, Oct. 19 at Morgan Creek Golf Course from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Luncheon and fashion show included.

Tickets are $50. For more information, please contact Denice at 604-538-5778.

Men are welcome; you can roar with us.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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