BROOKSIDE VILLAGE — In 1923, 6-year-old Lillie Shaffer was loading up two covered wagons with her family to embark on a 400-mile trek from Hawley to Rosenberg. Eighty-seven years later, she set out Saturday on another once-in-a-lifetime adventure — skydiving.
She decided to go skydiving to celebrate her 93rd birthday, she said. It was a decision she initially was a little nervous about, but was nothing but excited as the day approached.
Standing no more than
5 feet tall with a constant glimmer in her eye, Shaffer has an air of determination, especially when someone tries to tell her she’s too old.
“If George Bush can do it at 80 years old, I can do it at 93,” she said.
But her dreams of skydiving and risk-taking are nothing new to her lifestyle. Shaffer said she makes a point to live every day to its fullest because life is too short not to otherwise.
She is a member of two bowling leagues, watches lots of baseball — especially the Houston Astros — enjoys fishing and loves spending time with her three children, 12 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren with two more on the way.
She enjoys traveling with her family and most recently returned from an Alaskan cruise.
But her skydive Saturday at Skydive Spaceland in Rosharon was a date she had marked in her calendar and in her mind since early January, she said.
“I’m ready,” she said late last week. “I’m really ready and really excited.”
Her daughter, Marie Allman wasn’t excited about her mother’s birthday wish in the beginning.
“At first I thought it was a nutty idea,” Allman said. “But then I learned she’s going to do whatever she sets her mind to. It’s just something I had to accept.”
One of Allman’s fondest memories of growing up is picking pecan trees from her family’s yard, and while all the children were on the ground picking up the nuts, her mother was at the top of the tree shaking more loose.
“She’s always been adventurous,” Allman said, “always looking for adventure.”
Shaffer thanks her six brothers for teaching her about adventure — she remembers climbing to the top of cottonwood trees often times to escape their torment.
“I’m pretty sure she gave those boys just as much trouble as they gave her,” Allman said, laughing.
She didn’t experience any trouble on her jump early Saturday morning, or from anyone who wondered why she chose to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
“People ask me why I’ve decided to do this,” Shaffer said. “I just tell them, ‘You know, I can’t do it any younger, so why not?’”