When my mother was 73, she decided she wanted to go to Australia. So she bought a ticket, packed a suitcase, flew to Melbourne and had a great time for two months.

But on the way back, for some reason her flight out of LA was delayed, so she found a chair and settled into a book. Being an old lady, and tired from an already long day of travel, she fell asleep. She woke up to a tug on her arm and found herself looking into the unfriendly face of a thief intent on making off with her handbag. She was all of five foot one and he was much, much bigger than she was.

There was a tug-of-war back and forth, he finally wrenched her purse free, turned tail and ran.

My mother was never one to allow age or infirmity, let alone a heart condition take backseat to bad behaviour, so she gave him chase. She stayed right behind him all the way down a concourse, then onto an escalator. When he was nearly at the top, she tackled him and down he went. When he hit the floor, she had him around his right leg and he started kicking at her head with his left boot.

This turned out to be a really big mistake, because there were two very large Rastafarians, dread-locks and all, who took an interest in what was going on. They dragged the thief to his feet and proceeded to beat the living daylights out of him. My mother sat on the floor and watched, unable to do more than catch her breath, but not sure that she shouldn’t be running away from all three of them.

The Rastas finally decided he’d had enough of a beating and let him go. Then they gently helped her to her feet, brushed her off, handed back her purse and one of them asked, “Are you all right, old mother?"

Whatever ideas she might have had about Rastafarians before that, she thought these two were simply spectacular. They stayed with her in the airport lounge, exchanging stories over a cold beer until her flight arrived and then saw her safely to the gate. She had a great time with them. And thereafter, she spoke about all Rastafarians as though they were her grandchildren.

Note: She told me about this when I went to see her on her return and asked why her forehead was black and blue.

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