One Mother's Day, Mary Meyers' kids rushed upstairs, yelling, "Mom! Mom! There's something in your pool!" What she found was a yellow kayak — a surprise gift from her kids. "I jumped in it and I haven't been out since," said Meyers, a Treasure Island resident.
That was 12 years ago, when Meyers was 71. Today at age 83, she goes to the YMCA twice a week, enjoys beer and baseball games and doesn't take any medication — not one single pill.
In November, she and a half-dozen girlfriends — with an average age of about 79; one is 88 — got together to kayak four central Florida rivers in four days. Based at a cabin in Dunnellon, they paddled some of Florida's prettiest rivers, including the Weeki Wachee, Santa Fe, Withlacoochee and Rainbow.
Meyers met two of the paddlers on Elderhostel trips that took them paddling from the straits of San Juan de Fuca to the Bay of Fundy. "We inspire each other," she said. "There's so much talent among this group."
There is also loss. They've lost husbands. A child. A grandchild. And they've found each other. "We've all had our tragedies in our lives," said Meyers, who lost her husband in 2003. "We find solace in the river."
She met Tampa Bay Times outdoors editor Terry Tomalin a few times. He told her he wanted to do a story on Mary's group. But he passed away last spring. "He was an inspiration to us," said Meyers. "Hopefully we'll continue to do what he wanted us to do to preserve the outdoors."
Her advice to seniors who are hesitant to get outdoors and try the same adventure? "Get rid of your pills, get rid of your pillows, and get yourself a paddle!"