After two years as a care nurse and a total change of life style my beloved partner Ron passed away. Very devastating. My life as I had known it seemed to be over and I felt I was destined to become a little old lady hobbling to the shops with a walker. well not quite, but almost.
Then something magic happened. My old friend Stan Waterman was having a 90 birthday with the HDS and I was invited to join the celebration on a vessel call the Nautilus Explorer.
Being alone I was reluctant to accept but Douglas Seifert pushed me to accept and eventually I succumbed. What a life changer that trip turned out to be for me!
The ship was fabulous, the crew very helpful, but best of all were the friends, both old and new. A week later I was almost back to my old self. I had been spoilt, hugged, kissed (thank you Ernie, thank you Bret) hugged some more, up close with several great white sharks, put on a few pounds, and Leslie even managed to make me get up and sing for the whole group. It was marvelous! I want to thank everyone for being so welcoming and Ed Stetson and Leslie for organizing the trip, which would have been a lot of hard work.
It was lovely being with Stan, who is a good friend since Blue Water White Death days. The only sad this was that Ron was not with me to enjoy being on such a fine live-aboard with so many like-minded divers. He would have been thrilled seeing a Great White in the cage next to Stan. I know I was.
A lovely new friend, Bret Gilliam, gave me a heart shaped stone his dog had found and then convinced me that I should must attend Beneath the Sea in March. Douglas and Emily Seifert have persuaded me to go looking for Great Hammerheads afterwards. I am still a little old lady but looking forward to getting on with my life of travel and diving adventure.
Divers are a unique mob. They love each other, argue, make up, argue some more, and constantly talk about their latest diving adventurers. They are a family and I am ever grateful to all of you for including me as a member of that wonderful family. I love you all!
Valerie Taylor, AM
Original article from The Journal of Diving History