Wilma fulfils dream of travelling the world
Wilma Bristol Scruggs wanted to see the world, but just going to the beach was hard.
She was a child, living on Pembroke's Curving Avenue, and plagued by asthma.
“Going to the beach seemed to trigger it,” the 73-year-old. “I think it was brought on by the dampness and humidity. I had to go to the emergency room, at one point.”
The asthma didn't clear up until she moved to Maryland 47 years ago to work in the travel industry.
“I don't know why,” she said, “there is humidity here too.”
For three years, she worked as a United Airlines reservationist at Reagan National Airport just outside of Washington DC.
She took her first big trip to Greece.
“When I got there I was like ‘Oh my God, I can't believe I am really here',” she said. “The sea was just so blue. Everything was so beautiful.”
Since then she's travelled the world. Spain, France, Italy and the Caribbean are just a few of the places she's visited.
“I always knew I would travel,” she said. “When I was little, my mother, Ann Bristol, took me to New York and Toronto, so I always knew I wanted to see more than just Bermuda.”
There were Bermudians living near her when she first moved to Maryland. It helped with homesicknesses but didn't immediately get her over her fear of driving.
“When I was a teenager in Bermuda my friends were getting mopeds, but I was too scared to learn to drive one,” she said.
In the United States, she took the bus well into her 40s. The fast pace of the roads kept her from getting her licence. She was forced to learn to drive when her job moved and it became too long a commute by bus.
Ms Scruggs worked for a travel company associated with Disney World, and then Verizon telephone company. She took early retirement at 60.
Now, some of her favourite trips are back to Bermuda to visit family.
“I was in Bermuda at Cup Match two years ago,” she said. “I was in the Washington Mall and I heard the Gombeys. I was so excited to see them. I love the Gombeys and I keep a picture of them on my dining room wall to remind me of Bermuda.”
She now lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.
“I am literally across the street from Washington DC,” she said. “If I drive out of my development and cross the yellow line I am there.”
She developed diabetes at 48, and works hard to keep herself fit and healthy.
“It wasn't a shock as it runs in my family,” she said. “I've been in a seniors' exercise group for the last 12 years. I go to classes twice a week and I exercise at home. The vision in one of my eyes is compromised by the diabetes. I have to live a very disciplined life when it comes to diet and exercise.”
She volunteers with the American Diabetes Association.
“I made some charitable donations,” she said. “Then they asked if I would help in little ways. I hand out flyers and I call people and ask for donations for the charity. I feel they have helped me by putting out information about diabetes.”
In Washington DC she is active in the St Paul AME Church.
“I am a class leader with my church,” she said. “I am responsible for about 12 people. I intercede between them and the minister.
“If they need help or prayers or anything I pass it on to the minister. I just keep up with them, and how the family is doing. If they are sick I go to visit them. I act as liaison between the pulpit and the pew, so that nobody is unaccounted for.”
Her next trip is a cruise to visit her maternal grandparents' birthplace, St Kitts.
She is divorced and has one grown daughter, Katrina.
“I don't have any grandchildren. I may have to hire some,” she joked.
• The Royal Gazette highlights outstanding seniors every Tuesday in the Lifestyle section. If you would like to suggest a senior citizen telephone Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or e-mail email@example.com