By CLINT FOSTER
Gracie Walker, 90, had never done anything exciting. She lived a quite life in her Mineral Wells home, where some of her most eventful activities each week were her morning coffee with her neighbor and good friend, Darrel Allison, or when the two would ride to church together on Sundays.
Then one day, with her 91st birthday on the horizon on Oct. 14, Gracie decided it was time to kick the mundane and try something new.
Her grandson-in-law, Earl Dickson, and his wife, LaDonna, brought over his Harley Davidson motorcycle on a visit. Earl jokingly asked if Gracie wanted a ride and she did not hesitate.
“We all laughed because she never would do anything and then all of a sudden he came down on that motorbike and offered to give her a ride and she just took him up,” Darrel said. “Everybody else was about ready to faint.”
But Gracie wasn’t done getting her motor running. A few days later, Earl showed up, this time with his Maserati. In Darrel’s words, “she jumped in that thing and took off.”
But Gracie saved the best for last. Ever since he first met her, Darrel had been trying to take Gracie up in his Cessna 182 prop plane, but she never would. Five days after the motorcycle incident, Darrel, Earl and LaDonna were hanging out at Gracie’s house again. Darrel said he and Earl were talking in the front yard when LaDonna walked out of Gracie’s kitchen.
“’Well, now she wants to go flying,’” Darrel recalled she said. “So we just took off to the airport.
“She’s a goer, but I never dreamed of her getting on the back of a motorcycle, in a sports car or in an airplane.”
Gracie loved flying and Darrel said she’s been asking to go again. She said she had always wanted to fly, but was always scared to. Ultimately, it was her looming 91st birthday that made her want to face her fears and try something new.
“As old as I am, I said, ‘I have never done nothing exciting,’” she said. “I just decided on my own, nobody talked me into it. I just decided right quick that I wanted to do it. That’s all there was to it.”
And she did. Gracie said the plane ride was her favorite of the three vehicles.
“Oh yes siree, that was the most enjoyable thing I have ever done,” she exclaimed. “But I liked to ride the motorcycle too. It was fun, that great big ol’ thing. I just felt like I was flying.”
Gracie moved to Mineral Wells in 1989 with her second husband. The two had been on vacations in the United States before, but Gracie said that was as exciting as things ever got. Her first husband, she said, was “too scared to get out of the yard hardly.”
Her second husband died about two years ago and Gracie said she still hasn’t gotten over it. But she said she has great neighbors, like Darrel, who have helped her through and make her feel at home.
“I have had a lot of fun since we’ve been over here with people around here,” she said. “They’ve all been so good to me since my husband passed away.
They’ve just taken me under their wing and carried me. You can’t beat these neighbors around here. It’s just a wonderful place to live.”
Now Gracie said the next adventure her friends and family want her to take on is a ride in a hot air balloon. But Gracie is not so sure.
“I don’t know about that. I’m going to have to look into that,” she said.
When asked if she would let the Index know if and when she does decide to go up in a hot air balloon, Gracie had this to say:
“Well I’ll do that because you’ll hear me all over the country hollering.”
It appears age has certainly not dulled Gracie’s spirit, nor her sense of humor. In her words, it “just doesn’t bug her to be older.” Perhaps that’s a lesson we can all learn from.