Ann Cavera (Liberia 1966-68) shares stories of faith, hope, love and laughter
in the weekly podcast ‘Speeding Past 80’
By Julie Carle
BG Independent News
The podcast “Speeding Past 80” sounds like something racecar enthusiasts or law enforcement officials might listen to.
There are no tires screeching or sirens blaring in this Bowling Green-based podcast; however, racing fans and people who deal with speeding tickets still might listen, learn and enjoy. The podcast features the calm, reassuring, grandmotherly voice of Ann Cavera who shares weekly stories of “faith, hope, love and laughter.”
And goodness, does she! Of the 40-plus episodes she has recorded at her kitchen table this year, she has touched on topics that range from “spare change” vs. “loose change” to the power of a banana peel. Regardless of the topic, she infuses the usually four-to eight-minute conversations with warmth and a lesson in humanity.
The title is a nod to joining the rank of octogenarian this year.
“I thought for this 80th year, I can have my own little radio show. It’s a great way to connect, feel productive and share what we have. You know we have stories,” she said.
Cavera even suggested there should be a podcast channel specifically for people over 75 who have words and wisdom to express. “Maybe nobody wants to listen, but we can sure say it,” she added.
Producing the weekly podcast has also become her answer to life recently handing her lemons — an Alzheimer’s diagnosis of Jim, her beloved husband of 56 years. He was diagnosed in 2018, but as the diseases progresses, she admits, “Things have gotten a good deal more difficult this past year.”
The couple were Peace Corps volunteers in Liberia, where they shared common values and a strong faith, fell in love and started a life as husband and wife. Despite the fact that he was Catholic and she was raised Baptist, their faith was the glue that bonded them from the start.
Ann converted to Catholicism because she didn’t want to attend a different church than her husband. “I’ve been a happy Baptist. I’ve been a happy Catholic. But the same core faith has been there for both of these churches,” she said. “The older I get the simpler my faith gets. I try to honor God, keep a connection through prayer, and I try to do as much as I can for other people. That’s it. That’s my faith.”
Many of the stories she shares on the podcast are based on the more than 700 family-life, faith-based, weekly newspaper columns she and Jim wrote for 14 years when they lived in Evansville, Indiana.
That’s a lot of material. But she also likes to talk about current events and promote authors who write middle school books, a genre she frequently reads. As a former middle school teacher, Cavera has a soft spot for middle schoolers.
She called Episode 38 of “Speeding Past 80” “In Honor of Broken Things,” a bolt of lightning that struck her when she told the story. In the podcast, she masterfully recalls the similarities of teaching middle schoolers in southern Georgia who had been labeled slow and middle school students in Liberia who were desperately hungry and suffering from unheard of infections.
“I made many mistakes along the way, but a room full of children labeled discards can be a very forgiving bunch,” she said. “Those same children are also full of potential, hoping against hope they will find a way to realize hidden dreams.”
In addition to teaching, Cavera spent time as a college admissions counselor, and at 60 she became a youth minister.
She and Jim, who was a hospital social worker for 35 years, devoted a lot of time and energy raising their four children: James, who now is a scientist and engineer in the aerospace industry in Seattle; Los Angeles-based daughters, Katie, a successful banjo and bass musician, and Laura, who oversees a team of teachers; and Chris, an associate teaching professor at Bowling Green State University who teaches audio and video production and is the energy behind his mother’s professionally produced podcasts.
Ann and Jim moved to Bowling Green in 2011 to be close to their grandchildren, two sets of twins, Rachel and Kate who now are in their first year of college, and Jamie and David who are in high school.
Most importantly, “Speeding Past 80” is meant to affirm that even when life is not easy, there is value in making the best of each day with love, laughter and faith The podcast, which averages about 1,000 downloads a month, is available on most podcast outlets including Spotify and Podbean. New episodes drop on Tuesday mornings.
“Even if I don’t have thousands of listeners, at this point 40 or 50 years from now, all this stays forever. My ulterior motive is that my grandchildren can tell their grandchildren, ‘Do you want to hear what your great-great-grandmother sounded like?’” They will know her voice, and her message of hope and inspiration will live on.