Sometimes something uplifting happens during my travels that shakes me a bit. Something unexpected and just so out of left field that I have to write about it. Such it was with Stacey just the other day.
But before I get too deeply into this story let me say that this has nothing to do with music. Except perhaps the music of life.
Every person has a story. Always unpredictable and mostly it stays hidden. Especially with a casual encounter. But sometimes one little sentence or comment opens the door to that story and the real person is revealed.
My holiday in the US was nearing an end. After spending most of the time in Los Angeles and San Francisco (stay tuned) I was unwinding for a few days with my friend Kira, at Southold a quaint rural setting on the northern tip of Long Island abut three hours east of New York City. A comfortable, quiet, conservative place with plenty of specialist farms and vineyards and an increasing wealth spilling over from the nearby Hamptons. Kira took me and my camera on a bit of a tour of the beaches and country side and we found ourselves at Horton Point Lighthouse, dating from 1857, though it had been commissioned decades earlier in 1790 by George Washington. It is operational and stands guard over the Long Island Sound but today it was closed and gated off.
It was hard to photograph as it was hidden by trees so there was little point staying. As I was leaving I was approached by a cyclist who asked if I would take a photo with her phone, of her on her bicycle with the lighthouse in the background.
I obliged of course, but when she said she needed it as proof it made me curious. She explained. She was training for a charity bike ride in Florida in November to raise funds for a cancer survivor group. The ride is 100 miles. She has never ridden anything like that distance so she has to prove to herself and the organisers that she is up for it. Hence the photo evidence of her rides to various landmarks and hence our meeting at Horton Light.
We talked a bit. She was a cancer survivor herself. This seemed totally incongruous as I looked at her. She was a picture of health and fitness belying the fact she had had a double mastectomy, reached a weigh of 150 lbs , was couch ridden and had lost all her hair. That was then. This is now. Just three years later.
She had been helped by an organisation called First Descents which provides adventure experiences for young adult cancer recoverers and survivors. For her it was a kayak journey. This was life changing and she wants to help provide that experience to others.
I was inspired by this story and asked if I could take some photos of her. Then I finally got around to introducing myself . “Oh” she said “I know some Singers but they are Jewish.” What followed was an incredible bit of synchronicity. It turned out her grandparents were of Jewish descent and had escaped Nazi persecution migrating to the United States just as my parents had escaped from Hungary in 1939 and had gone wherever the boat was sailing. In their case to Australia.
I would have loved to have talked more but we each had to go our own way and I watched her ride away on the next leg of her life’s journey.
Aliveness can sometimes be a bumpy windy road with many twists and turns and we sometimes think that we have been dealt a tough hand. But then you meet someone like Stacy and it puts your own problems into perspective. So inspiring to see how one person deals with adversity and uses it as a springboard to change her life and the lives of others.
In the midst of the current turmoil and apparent decline in the values of, dare I say it, a once great nation, it is reassuring to see that people like her exist.
I was so lucky to meet Stacy. I hope I meet her again. Perhaps when she cycles around Ireland as her next challenge?
You can contribute to Stacy’s fund raising efforts at this site https://support.firstdescents.org/fundraiser/1082893