October 30, 2017 – The Francis Journey continues and we hit the road running. Rosie and Francis got into Boston a day before I did, they had 24 hours to recover before our journey picked up right where we left off a year and a half ago. He has same at the US, the same gregarious laugh. When Francis (and now Rosie) are in the US, I do the heavy lifting of travel planning (with Dale’s help). When I’m in Cameroon he is the choreographer.
We chose Boston as our first stop because of two remarkable women, Elissa Sherman and Anne Doyle. Elissa runs LeadingAge Massachusetts. She took a huge leap of faith in having me do a general session presentation earlier this year about the Francis journey. She took on the misgivings of some of the members who thought there was some exploitation going on. Anne is the Education Director at Lasell Village. She ran me down after that LeadingAge presentation asking me to visit their community when Francis came on this journey.
We spent the first day in Boston with a frantic trip downtown, wandering the streets of the city as I inflated my knowledge of the history of the Revolutionary War. Luckily Francis was not engaging in any fact checking. Then we were off to dinner to meet Anne at Lasell Village for dinner, a thoroughly delightful evening. Francis and Rosie live in a world where the average life expectancy is 57, so having dinner and mingling with dozens of vibrant 80 and 90 year olds, was remarkable. We had the pleasure of dining with Anngie and Bill Taylor, a Boston couple that so epitomizes the joy of marriage, they could have starred in a TV sitcom. Pam Alakai, an elegant Cameroonian and former employee of Lasell, also joined us. I will write more about her later in these blogs. She will be making a difference in the world! It was a raucous dinner, even before Anne got us all glasses of whiskey! The other residents dining were in two camps: hoping we would quiet down or wishing they could join us!
Lasell Village is a story in itself. A fabulous senior living community built into the fabric and infrastructure of Lasell College. The residents mingle with students. One of the side benefits of these journeys is the opportunity to connect with such raw innovation and the delight in seeing it through the eyes of Cameroon. Anne is a marvelous, petite, energetic bundle of energy. She knows the names and stories of every resident. She walks consistently around the community at a rapid pace and her infectious smile lights up the building. We all feel it, it is contagious.
The next day we made a presentation to the school. Francis, Rosie and I were delighted at the enthusiasm and number of residents who turned out (including Elissa). Francis spoke as only he can and the crowd of highly educated, curious residents asked meaningful questions. It was cool to be on the sidelines, watching people in their 80s and 90s learning about a world they have not seen. The wisdom of aging screamed from the rooftops.
The first day of this journey could not have gone better. The irony is not lost on me that this is a life-changing opportunity to link two villages – Lasell Village in the US and village Francis will choose as their partner in Cameroon. We know that Anne and Pam will be along for the ride, there is room on the bus.