Margarette Sherman Kirsch is an 82-year-old, 5-foot-6, 130-pound dynamo. And her lifelong dream has been to ride cross-country in an 18-wheeler.
Finally, it was happening.
On a warm, sunny morning in early June in Dublin, Pa., Kirsch posed for photographers with the staff of the Twilight Wish Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to honor and enrich the lives of deserving seniors by granting wishes, and the sponsors who made her trip possible.
See also: Nonprofit makes dreams come true.
"She's always wanted to do that," Kirsch's husband, Jack, 83, said of the cross-country trip. "I bought her a motorcycle to try to calm her down, but that didn't work."
Kirsch climbed up in the rig unassisted. She sat in the driver's seat and blew the horn, but that was just for show.
Annabella Wood, a 30-year veteran trucker, would be doing the driving. Her dog, Quark, would tag along with them on the trip.
Twilight Wish found the 52-year-old Wood through a newsletter of a local faith organization, and the trucker volunteered to drive Kirsch to California and back to her Merritt Island, Fla., home, a trip that would take more than two weeks.
At first glance, Wood appeared as introverted as Kirsch was extroverted.
But at the send-off party they traded roles.
Wood, a country singer and songwriter who also has a degree in quantum physics from Bryn Mawr College, was at ease in front of the audience. She played her guitar and belted out a song that, although she had written it years before she ever met Kirsch, was particularly appropriate for the occasion — "Truck Drivin' Mama."
When asked for her reaction to being granted her wish, Kirsch said in her Georgia accent: "I talk all the time, but right now I am speechless."
A passion for trucks
Although they were born decades apart, Kirsch and Wood discovered on their trip that they have much in common.
"We are very similar in that we both have the wanderlust," said Wood. "We love sleeping in a different bed each night. We love trucks — everything about them, the fueling, the bumping down the road.
"It's something we're born with. This thing, it comes from the inside out."
At one stop, Kirsch asked Wood to make a U-turn with the truck while Kirsch watched from the parking lot.
After Wood did, Kirsch said, "I just love watching this truck move."