Paddler Jeanne 1925-2013

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Those of you who follow this blog will notice there has been a long silence here. I can’t resume without telling a story about where I have been while on hiatus from SightingsByClaudia. So let me begin…

This is a photo I took of my mother, Jeanne, heading with great determination on her 87th birthday to climb onboard the Central Coast SurviveOars dragon boat and head out onto her favorite Morro Bay, paddling hard and gliding far.

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That’s Jeanne, second back on the left, hatless and crowned with her snow white hair. Most of her paddling companions are cancer survivors. Jeanne found her way to the SurviveOars team when a physical therapist helping her with severe lymphedema after breast surgery told her paddling might help. Paddling with her new-found friends rapidly became her greatest joy (and joys she had many). 

National dragon boat races gave Jeanne a new outlet for her competitive spirit. She raced with her team in San Francisco, Tempe, San Diego and Long Beach, competing fiercely in becoming her own best self, and winning more than a few gold medals with her team.

On a full-moonlight paddle the night of her death, her beloved team celebrated her life well lived, telling stories through laughter and tears, in the two boats sitting still in the middle of the bay. My daughter Zohara and I were given the seats of honor for this spontaneous gesture of love.

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As I renew my dedication to supporting self-directed and aspiring self-directed learners here on this blog, I want to take a moment to acknowledge my first and best role model for self-directed learning. Mentor Extraordinaire. I was privileged to serve as a witness and caregiver through her most courageous “paddle out ahead,” forever learning.

Thank you, Jeanne.

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