Lifestyle

Living to the rhythm of roaming and adventure

  • Golden girl: Margot Cox as flight attendant with Pan American Airways, playfully posing in the cockpit (Photograph supplied)
  • Margot Cox, second right, as a flight attendant with Pan American Airways in the late 1950s (Photograph supplied)
  • Margot Cox (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
  • Margot Cox (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
  • Margot Cox in 1860s costume as a character in a walking tour of Dockyard (Photograph supplied)
  • Margot Cox kayaking off Bermuda (Photograph supplied)
  • Golden age: Margot Cox as a flight attendant with Pan American Airways

Margot Cox has fond memories of her childhood in Spanish Point.

Lunch was eaten at whatever house she happened to be at when she was hungry; days at the beach only ended after the sun went down.

It’s a rhythm that stuck with her.

At 82 she’s part of a walking tour of Dockyard that depicts life in the 1860s when the historic site was built.

She is also involved with the Grateful Bread, a programme that feeds the hungry out of St Andrew’s Church on Church Street.

“People say there’s no poverty in Bermuda but there sure is,” she said

Ballet classes and online courses also fill her time. She doesn’t yet think of herself as a senior citizen.

“I feel just like you,” she said. “I’m just older.”

At 60, she decided to celebrate the milestone by climbing Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro.

“My sons were out of the house and I needed an adventure,” she said. “I’d never climbed a mountain before, but I was athletic. I used to swim. I thought the climb was doable.”

It was a lot harder than she expected.

Scaling the almost 20,000ft peak was a five-day job. During the night climb to the summit, she nearly gave up. “I was just finished,” Ms Cox said. “I sat down and looked at this young guy walking behind me [and] said, ‘Let me die. Leave me here. I can’t do this.’”

The man stuffed a candy in her mouth and ordered her to get up and keep going. It may have been the sugar rush, but Ms Cox had an epiphany.

“I thought, ‘You have come all this way and you are a couple of hours away from the summit’,” she said. “I got up and I was fine. It is a physical thing, but it is also mental.”

When she finally reached the top and saw the sun coming up, she cried.

“It was so emotional,” she said.

It became a turning point in her life. She next went white water rafting down the Colorado River, fished for piranhas on a boat trip down the Amazon River and trekked the Annapurna Circuit.

A problem with her lower back five years ago forced her to give her adventures up. To help, she started taking Pilates classes.

“The problem is still there but I have no more pain,” she said. “Exercise is so important.”

Ms Cox moved to Bermuda from Portsmouth, England in 1939 at the age of 3. Her father, William, was in the British Navy and was posted to Admiralty House to work as a chef. Her mother, Janet, was a Scottish nurse.

Her sister, Janet, was born here. When the Second World War ended three months later, the family was sent back to England.

Conditions in Portsmouth were rough.

“The South of England where all the dockyards were was just flattened,” she said. “There were streets gone. We went to Portsmouth. We couldn’t find anywhere to live. We were there for two years and it was really awful. We had to live with my grandmother, which was crowded and inconvenient.”

She missed being able to roam the way she had in Spanish Point.

“People in England thought I was a wild child,” she said.

After two years her parents gave up and returned to Bermuda, where her father went to work in Customs.

When she was 21, she found a job as a flight attendant with Pan American Airways.

“At that time it was glamorous,” she said. “We could travel the world. We thought we were the bees knees. We wore blue skirts with little short white shirts. We had little caps and emblems. It was one of the most desired jobs in the world in the 1950s.”

Eventually, she found her way to New York where she worked for British Overseas Airways Corporation on Fifth Avenue. She married and had a son, Brian, but missed Bermuda. After two years the family moved back here. A second son, Ian, was born before she and her husband divorced.

She found work with British Airways. In her 50s, ready for change, she signed up for legal and corporate courses at the Bermuda College.

She retired in 2008 after stints at Mello & Jones and Lombard Odier, but continued to work as a consultant.

“That is what I still do,” she said. “I don’t want to work permanently, but I need extra income. I have a client I work for, from home. They come here once a year for a big meeting. I wouldn’t mind having another client.”

She has one grandson, William, who is 23 and studying law in London.

“He is the star of my life,” she said.

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them