Be Kind to Each Other: Remembering “Grannies on Safari” CoHost Regina Fraser

In February I had a phone call with Regina Fraser, cohost of the Emmy award-winning TV series Grannies on Safari. It was an ice-cold day in Chicago and I was at the dog park with my two furballs.

They say your memory is clearer when something distinctive happens — you remember where you were, what you were doing, what the day was like. I remember that I was at the park on this particularly cold day because we were selling our house and our realtor needed to show it. It was the middle of the work day so I was trying to take care of some emails and other business while freezing my fingers off. I was told that Regina needed to speak with me, and that it was important, so I gave her a call.

Regina and her co-host Pat were planning to speak at our third-annual Women in Travel Summit (WITS) in Irvine, California the following month. They had spoken at WITS ’15 in Boston and were well-loved, not just for their tales of travel but for their positive energy and hilarious commentary. We were excited to have them join us for a second year in a row.

Yet when I talked to Regina, she was extremely apologetic and told me that the Grannies would need to make a last-minute cancellation on their speaking engagement for WITS ’16 for health reasons. For their privacy I won’t go into the details of the call, but it left me with a hole in my heart. She told me we were creating something wonderful and she only wished that she could have been a part of it again. I told her not to worry; that health comes first and the team will understand.

A few days ago I learned that Regina Fraser had passed away. I found out while standing on the platform of the purple line train in Evanston, Illinois, headed back south to Chicago. My heart sank in that moment. In the nearly two years that I had known them, I had been enchanted not only by the Grannies’ dynamic, but by their heart. Though we weren’t particularly close, we had crossed paths on various occasions. Just being in their presence felt like a warm hug. They weren’t just grannies — they were everone’s grannies.

I think back to the phone call I had with Regina on that blustery February day. I’d asked her if she had any advice as we got ready for another WITS. She simply responded with this: “Be kind to each other.”

In the past few days, I have reflected often on those words — be kind to each other. It’s a simple phrase, yet one that hits deeply in a world where hours seem to pass as quickly as minutes, and where “being on top” can sometimes feel like the most important thing in life.

I believe that the most important thing in life is to leave the world a little bit better than it was when you entered it. Perhaps this is through innovating and creating; building new things that make life easier for people. Perhaps this is through helping others and sharing your knowledge with them. Or perhaps it’s just about making people feel better about themselves and bringing light to their day.

Perhaps it’s a mixture of the three.

When I think about Regina, I think about how deeply she embodied her advice. She was warm and inviting. She was genuine. She had created a name for herself while also being someone that people talked about fondly. I am a strong believer that women should raise one another up, and she couldn’t have served as a better example. When I was with her, I felt her support. I felt she was proud of what we were trying to achieve at Wanderful.

As I grow this community, I would like to continue to make women like her feel proud.

My deepest condolences to Regina’s family and friends, as well her co-host, Pat Johnson. I truly believe that the world is a little bit better because she was a part of it. We will all miss her.

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