Once upon a time, a woman of advanced years decided to celebrate her birthday, which fell on September 21, as does International Day of Peace, in a new way. Instead of her family gathering to sing and eat cake, she decided to accept an invitation from the Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, CA, 241 miles north of her home, to speak about her book, Walking For Our Lives, which is about Peace Walks she had taken when she was merely 59. Connie, her tent-mate from the first walk, lived in nearby Ft. Bragg and invited her Quaker friends. They eagerly accepted and staged a peace presence on the sidewalk outside the store 30 minutes before the book reading.
Inside, seated in rows and standing, people listened, asked thoughtful questions, made wishes for peace and clapped when the birthday girl blew out the candles. One of the woman’s sons had driven four hours, offered to video the book reading, helped serve the cake and glimpsed the woman’s passion for peace through writing.
The next morning, driving to Santa Rosa to visit another son, the woman stopped by Gowan’s Gravenstein Apple Stand to buy 40 pounds for applesauce, her traditional Christmas gift to family members.
In Santa Rosa, a third son showed up for a long leisurely Saturday lunch and conversation about the past year he had spent in Addis Ababa helping Save The Children.
Sunday morning, the woman arrived at Unity church, set up her book display, and was a guest speaker at the service. After church, the woman led a three hour memoir-writing workshop.
Monday morning, she drove back toward her home, but stopped on the way to have lunch with a daughter-in-law and showed her the 40 pounds of lovely fragrant apples.
Tuesday and Wednesday, the woman made applesauce and thanked her lucky stars that she had decided to drive to Mendocino to celebrate her 85th birthday in a new way.