While many of you have followed along for the past year as we have planned and prepared for our Trans Canada hike you likely realize that I don’t speak much about my family. I’ve always believed that it is the adventure, on the trail, in the kayak and the nature around each of us that is the essential part of message I wanted to present. However during this past holiday season as preparations have been made to sell the house, find homes for my pets, and as I have sold or donated my possessions, I have become increasingly nervous (excited yes, but also a little scared) of what is to come. When I visited with my family to celebrate the New Year I took the time to express my rising uncertainties about all that is to come in the proposed hike across Canada. While there was not much direct advice given to me, over the days which followed I was fortunate to begin hearing family stories which I have either never heard or, sadly never previously taken the time to listen to. It is my Grandmother’s story which impacted upon me the most and parts of which I wanted to share.
My Grandmother, Eva Pfeil, now a quiet unassuming lady who spends her days perpetually looking for a comfortable chair to relax in or who can be found reading, cooking or enjoying her tea in front of the fireplace, began to tell me the stories of her lifetime. As a result I not only came to know her in a way I would never have, but I also came to realize the amount of strength, personal endurance and perseverance she has at the core of her being.As a young lady, newly married and pregnant, my Grandmother, fled Poland and Europe to the American sector at the conclusion of the Second World War with only what she could carry to supply her. En route and without her husband she gave birth to my mother in a shelter amid an air raid. Scavenging for months she provided for herself and her daughter eventually surviving long enough to get to safety. Years later, supporting the career of her husband, an architect who moved around the world constantly between contracts and jobs she ensured her daughter saw the wonders of nature and grew up educated and happy. By the time she reached America she had travelled throughout Europe and the Middle East and had educated herself as an Industrial Designer as part of the Bauhaus movement.
As I close out this long posting of my thoughts for the day I wanted to once again thank my grandmother, Dr. Eva Pfeil – grandmother, mother, survivor, explorer, engineer, and professor at Auburn University – for inspiring me and showing me – even amid my own doubts - that with dedication anything is possible!