"You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was."
Our time in Uganda ran out all too soon, but as it ended we still fit in some of the best moments with people there we'll never forget.
I met my mother's friend, Dorothy, whom she met when she visited Uganda three years ago and has corresponded with ever since. Dorothy hurried to meet Kevin and I as we pulled up to my aunt's church on Sunday. She was so easy to talk to right away, and we carried on chatting and I gave her a gift from my mother (the novel Little Women, some candy, and a card). At one point she paused and said, "It is so strange to be talking to you now, you look just like your mom, it's almost as if she's here." She seemed to have tears in her eyes, and of course then so did I. I understood why my mom always spoke of her with such tenderness.
My aunt and Kevin and I had lunch with Kevin's student, Ambrose, and the student that my mom and stepdad sponsor, William. As soon as we met William I could tell he had a fun and hilarious personality. Over lunch I had the privilege of getting to give him a new backpack packed with fun presents from my mom and Brad. I wished that they had gotten to be with William to do this, since they've never met him and I knew they'd love him. As he opened the backpack he first spotted a card from each of them, and read them thoroughly first without even touching the candy and gifts, and then grabbed a stack of photos my mom included of various family members doing fun things, and had me explain who was in each photo and where it was taken. William's amiable curiosity and confident caring nature is going to take him wherever he wants to go... it was a such joy to meet him.
On our last full day we went bowling with my aunt and the Hope Alive staff. The skill level was wide-ranging but the smiles never stopped, and after every turn, there was always someone cheering you no matter how you did. There was a dj playing a wide variety of 80s and 90s dance hits, and between turns our Ugandan friends would bust some serious moves. Kevin and I were so impressed, and Kevin decided then that he needed to one day come back to Africa for a few weeks just to study dance moves... "there was so much to learn from them..." he said in awe. Totally true.
Then we flew away... but before our journey was completely over, there was still something left we had to do. As we touched down in Dubai for our overnight layover, Kevin asked, "Did you bring your paintbrush?" I grinned. "Yep."
"Good, because I've got my roller," he replied. But we didn't quite paint the town.
Our cabbie drove us through the glittering city in the middle of the night. The streets were quiet but the skyscrapers lit up the middle eastern night sky. Nothing was open at this time, so we had him drop us off at the beach right in the heart of Dubai. Kevin and I tore off our shoes and ran through the sand. We stepped into the ocean... and just started laughing. It was so warm. Warmer than the humid desert air. And the fantastic and very foreign scene was just too incredible. That famous hotel, the one that rises up in a curved arc with a tennis court hovering in the sky, was just to our left, looming over us and illuminating the gentle waves of the Persian Gulf. We bodysurfed and picked up shells and floated easily on our backs in the very salty water. It's a euphoric feeling to be in a moment that you are confident will stay with you for the rest of your life. As we drove away, the sun rose and we could see the city come to life. Kevin and I knew there could not have been a more fantastic finale to our African adventure, and when we landed in San Francisco eighteen hours later, with sand still in our hair, I know we could not have felt more grateful when we saw our Grandma waiting for us, sweet and excited, eager to hear our stories.
"The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.
Today and tomorrow are yet to be said.
The chances, the changes are all yours to make.
The mold of your life is in your hands to break. "
— J.R.R. Tolkien