Saturday, March 11, 2017

Internet sleuthing leaves me eerily quaking...

Once again, I went looking for an old Peace Corps friend.  And when I say old, I literally mean old.  Loretta was the oldest person in our group.  At the time we first arrived in Armenia, she was 62 years old-- the same age as my father.  I remember she was interviewed about being a "senior" aged Peace Corps Volunteer.  I remember she was from Chicago, had many children, and sported long, thick, luxurious white hair that hung to her hips.  She wore Birkenstock sandals and was very level headed and independent.  She was a business volunteer and much respected by everyone.  She spoke of one day writing a book about her Peace Corps experiences, but I don't know if she ever did that.

I thought I had lost touch with Loretta forever, but after some Internet sleuthing, I managed to find her mentioned in several news articles about one of her children.  In late April 2015, Loretta's son Andy Land, who is a hospice nurse, climbed Mount Everest.  While he was climbing, there was a tremendous earthquake there that killed over 5000 people.

Andy was actually on Mount Everest when the quake happened.  He survived, but still had to get off the mountain.  His wife, children, and mother were waiting at home for him.  Andy was very fortunate, since at least ten Mount Everest climbers died in the quake and at least thirty people were injured.  Andy escaped and was able to help some Nepali people.  Unfortunately, there was a second quake a couple of weeks after the first one and it's possible that some of the people who made it through the first quake were killed in the second.

This story is a little eerie in a different way.  In March 2015, Andy was in the United States and talking about death and his work as a hospice nurse as he prepared for his climb.  He surely had no way of knowing that there would be an earthquake as he ascended Mount Everest, yet there he was reminding people that death is a part of life.  He's right, of course.  Everyone must die, but most of us would rather not think about it, let alone accept it.

Fortunately, despite someone's erroneous comment to the contrary, Andy wasn't killed at that point in time.  His group wisely abandoned their attempt to climb Mount Everest; if they hadn't done that, they probably would have died in the second quake.  I know many people would not have wanted to abandon such a lofty quest, especially considering all that goes into planning a climb up Mount Everest.  There are probably people out there who would have tried to keep going.  They would have done so at their great peril.  I'm glad good sense prevailed and Andy didn't try to complete his quest at that time.  And I'm also relieved that Andy was able to leave Nepal.  Sadly, so many people surely couldn't do that.

As I read Andy's story, I sat there amazed.  I knew Andy's mom when she was a Peace Corps Volunteer and always thought she was an incredible lady.  Obviously, she passed her adventurous and compassionate genes on to her children.  And obviously, she passed on her level headedness, too.  I'm sure an experience like that was life altering for everyone.  

As far as I know, Loretta is now in her 80s and doing well.  As of April 2015, she still looked much like she did when she was a PCV.  I wish her every happiness.


  1. I'm really glad he abandoned his climb. This would have been a very sad story had he died, and he sounds like a great person, as does his mother.

    1. Yeah. I agree. I never met Andy, but his mom was amazing when I knew her.


Comments on older posts will be moderated until further notice.