In 1996 — on her son’s 13th birthday — Anne Faber’s husband was killed by a drunk driver.
In one moment, her life changed forever.
She left her job as a Wall Street analyst. She moved to Westport, for its strong school system.
Yet not until Ginger Katz — a fellow member of her Norwalk Hospital bereavement support group — mentioned rowing did Anne find a reason to get up in the morning, and really do something.
Anne knew nothing about the sport. But Ginger took her to the old Saugatuck club. The very first time Anne picked up an oar was in a race.
She was hooked.
“I’d been a dancer,” Anne — now 70 years old — recalls. “Rowing seemed very rhythmic.” She discovered a talent for tempo. Today, she says proudly, “I’m known as the metronome.”
She joined Norwalk’s Maritime Rowing Club. She became certified as a coach. A trustee of the Berkshire Rowing and Sculling Society, she heads up to Pittsfield every Monday, coaching adults and giving back to her sport.
Anne is much more than a rower, of course — a committed knitter, she makes healing shawls for chemo patients through the Westport Senior Center’s Knit One, Nibble One program, and she has trained to be a pharmacy technician, learned to be a baker and chef, and earned certification as a paralegal — but it is on the water that she feels most fulfilled.
Last month, at the USRowing Masters National Championships in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Anne won 5 medals. There were over 2,000 entries from 143 clubs, and no one is believed to have earned more.
The races were 1000-meter sprints. Anne’s stash includes golds in lightweight singles and (with fellow Westporter, 72-year-old Peggy Bliss) lightweight doubles, plus a pair of silvers and a bronze. Some of those medals came rowing with 50-something women.
Her victories mean “I’ve arrived at a level of competency that makes my boat move,” Anne says. “I train all year long, so there’s some self-satisfaction too.”
But rowing has given her more than medals.
“It’s allowed me to find myself again,” Anne explains. “It’s made me someone else. I’ve seen a different part of life. I regained my feeling of rhythm and motion.”
She loves being on the river, with fish and birds. Rowing — as difficult as it is — is quiet and peaceful.
And, Anne notes, “when the boat moves quickly and efficiently, just skimming the waterline, it’s an incredible, exhilarating feeling. It’s like a Zen period in time.”
Last fall, Anne won an Over-70 race at the prestigious Head of the Charles. She hopes to return this year.
“I’m still trying to figure out what to do in the next stage of my life,” Anne says. “Whatever it is, I like exploring new things and meeting new people.”
Who knows? That may lead to more self-discovery, as wonderful as the day nearly 20 years ago when Anne Faber first dipped her toes in the rowing water.
(Hat tip: Diane Lowman)