Many of the people in the office were in support groups and one of them was me. While attending a group session a pamphlet came across the table advertising a cruise to the Caribbean which would be leaving the next year in January. It was then July. I would be turning age 50 in December and I wanted to give myself a gift which would be a cruise. I lived pay check to pay check but in July we were allowed to sell some of our vacation time back for cash so I did that. There were those in the office that thought I would never make this dream but it did not matter to me. I used the $600 and made my first down payment with the remaining money to be paid the following October.
I filled out the papers and made my deposit. I was to be assigned a roommate. This was a group from all over the world. I would know no one but knew we all shared a common interest. When over time came available I worked and put that money away. When the summer sales hit at the clothing stores, I was the first one there. I purchased $200 outfits for as low as $20. I bought outfits for each theme night on the cruise plus discounted summer wear.
When October came I was able to pay the final payment. My clothes were bought and packed. I was good to go. My dream was on the way. My supervisor said to me, “Annie, I knew you could do this.” Life does throw us curves. In November my sister passed away around Thanksgiving which was very traumatic to me. I thought that it just was not time for me to go off and have fun. I called the person that co- ordinated the cruise and will never forget his words. He said, “Ann, I have never met you. I will refund your money but before doing that do me a favor. Ask yourself what your sister would have wanted you to do and then call me back.” I did this. I knew my sister would want me to continue to live and enjoy life. So the call was made and my cruise was a go.
The day came. I left St. Louis in the snow to arrive in Miami, Florida by air. This was all new to me and another adventure. I was so excited. There were so many people at the port. Nothing was familiar. It was a bit scary being alone at the time. The Norwegian ship, the Norway, was huge. I finally arrived at my cabin and met my room mate.
I was assigned an early dining time with a beautiful family from Iowa. I bonded quickly with the lady as if she were my sister. We laughed, shared stories, and many woman to woman secrets. Then I met others that came with our group. The group totaled about 400 people. It was just like having a new family consisting of people of all ages and backgrounds but we shared a common bond. No one was ever left friendless.
I ate things that I had never even seen before. I was introduced to Reggae music which I love. I won money on the boat slots which allowed me to go to a beautiful spa on the boat each day for pampering. I enjoyed dancing in the night air. I saw the beautiful sunset across the ocean. I experienced the beautiful waters at St. Martin. I visited St. Thomas. I learned about the Dutch and French cultures. I viewed a nudist beach from a distance. I had the pleasure of a massage outside under a Palm tree with the ocean wind blowing on my body. I fellowship ed with people on Cayman Island. I had my bed sheets turned back each night with a mint laying on my pillow. For seven days I felt I lived the life of Cinderella.
Then the last day of the trip came. Some of us hugged and cried while saying our good byes. We exchanged phone numbers to stay in contact. We didn’t want to leave each other and the paradise that we had experienced. We reached port.. We left the ship. We got to the airport. We were all taking flights back to our homes from all over the world. We hugged and then waved good bye as we boarded our planes.
The trip will never leave my mind. The beauty of the islands and the water will always be clear and never forgotten. But more importantly what I will always remember is the beauty of how strangers from all walks of life came together as one big family. The way we expressed our love for each other and the way we left a mark in each others HEART. I hope by writing this story as a Working Boomer that I have left a mark in your heart. Always follow your DREAM.
Originally posted 2010-12-08 15:30:38.