It’s one of life’s miracles that while I never remember where I put my car keys, I never forget anything pertaining to my grandchildren. Joshua is sixteen now, but the telephone conversation we had that day over a decade ago is as clear as a shiny penny. In fact, it’s all about pennies, and love, and lots of other things.
What is it sweetheart?
My mom sent me upstairs. She said I’m a spoilt boy. I’m not a spoilt boy, he says, wailing in indignation.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1991, the world wide web was born and we were all invited to join. I didn’t do it right away, but in 1997 in an absolute leap of faith at the age of 57, I launched my website, JourneyWoman.com. My dream was to connect women travelers around the world and someting in my gut told me that cyberspace was the path to take. When my children heard what their mother was up to, they rolled their eyes and said, "Mom, you’re 60-years old and you’re digitally deficient.
I’m a Jewish caucasian grandmother who isn’t a very good cook. I shy away from any recipe that requires more than two steps or two bowls. However, because I am my Jewish mother’s daughter, when push comes to shove I am able to produce some of the traditional Jewish dishes necessary to commemorate special holidays. Passover meat balls are my extreme specialty, brisket comes next, and matzo balls (from a mix) is my number three contribution to family dinners. In fact, my festive meatballs are most often referred to as Bubby’sMeatballs.
A few years back I was invited to the Yukon by the Canadian Tourism Commission to moderate a panel of bloggers. At that event I was introduced as ‘The Grandmother of Women’s Travel’ for the work I’ve done on behalf of female travelers.
After the event, a blogger from Beijing came running up to me, huffing and puffing and asked: "Are you really Evelyn Hannon?"
"Yes," I answered.
"Can I have a photo with you," he asked, barely able to catch his breath.
I learned today that November is Adoption Awareness Month. That, for me, provoked a series of poignant memories which transported me right back to China a dozen years ago to one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. It was then that a precious new addition, my granddaughter Lotus, joined our family. Lotus is a teenager now but this is the story I wrote way back then describing how we first met.
I am a feminist. I’ve been a feminist since the early 60s. In thought and spirit I was right there in the trenches along with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. However, in truth, as a young woman with two young daughters to care for and a husband who was still completing a university degree, the best I could do was read Ms. Magazine and dream of equal opportunities for women.
I grew up in the 40s without television to distract me or CNN to scare me. News didn’t travel as fast back then, so my parents and I were not traumatized by horrendous tales of kids being murdered or kidnapped when allowed outside unattended.
Over the last few months I’ve been preoccupied with emptying the home my late mom and aunt lived in. I've donated their personal belongings to charities, paid to have things carted away, sold some objects online, and held more than a few garage sales. There were photos, sofas, pot and pans, dishes, jewelry, odds and ends. In some cases I had remote connection to the objects. In others, I felt more than a pang giving them up.
Those who know me know that I am a "less is more" kind of gal. I wear little make-up and not a lot of bling. At 75, I believe in aging gracefully. However, sometimes the universe aligns and you just know that you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. That’s where my "aging disgracefully" side kicks in.
As a travel journalist writing about travel from a woman's point of view, I am in touch with other writers and photographers on a daily basis. It doesn't matter if these folks are in London, Delhi, or New York City, each is as close to me as my computer keyboard. Over the years we've become cyber pals and that certainly helps when, every March, I spearhead a photography project to celebrate International Women's Day(IWD).
My topic today is "The Big Machine called Popular Culture and how it's in control of your attitudes."
Ha, ha, you say. I'm smarter than that. I am not being controlled.
Well, I say, you definitely are. And I'll concede that it's hard not to be. On a daily basis we are all bombarded by media messages. And the sources of those messages generally come from a handful of big guys at the top of the communication chain who are deciding for you what you should be thinking and buying.
I recently was on a Viking European river cruise with my daughter, Erica. I'm a travel journalist and this was a work assignment for me. For Erica, it was a much needed holiday away from work and a mom's daily routine. Before we left I shared with her, "Please feel free to do what makes you happy. I love having you around, but if you choose to stay behind while I tour, go for it.
My contractions were intensifying as expected. She was about ready to be born when suddenly the birthing team went from gently encouraging me to an emergency call to action. The baby’s heartbeat had changed. Something was wrong. Out came the forceps; within moments Ms. Ehm made her assisted appearance with umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. But to everyone’s delight she arrived screaming, letting the world know she meant business. I should have known then. This baby would be my Warrior Daughter.
I feel sick about what I've done but I had no choice.
There were (and still are) two very important elders in our family. The eldest was my mother, the absolute Grande Dame of our clan. She was the epitome of graciousness and fierce determination. I can count on the fingers of one hand the times she voiced any disapproval to her children or grown grandchildren. She loved unconditionally and by the time she died at 94 she had earned an irrevocable place in our hearts.
As Canada mourns Jean Béliveau, one of our Canadian national sports heroes, I thought I would add this heartwarming story about Jean - one of this country's hockey legends - and how he touched the lives of both my daughter and her dad. Here's the tale in my daughter Leslie Ehm's own words...
I’m 74 years old, a travel journalist and a photographer.
Some women my age won’t leave home without putting on their single strand of cultured pearls. I feel the same way about my bright red granny glasses. Not only do they help me to see, they are my absolute best fashion accessory. They truly make me happy.
I looked in the mirror yesterday, and at 74, I smiled at what I saw.
I'm beginning to look so much like my mother and I think that's pretty darn good. She was graceful and lovely until the day she died at 94. She also had lots of grandmotherly wrinkles, yet I never once heard her say I wish I looked the way I used to look.