I’ve come to believe it’s all about preparation, did I sufficiently feed myself with rich experiences, capacitate deeply rooted relationships, situate myself in a space that not only allowed for failure, but a graceful recovery? If so, am I prepared to rid myself of this old shell, spread my wings, and live under a whole new set of laws?
Ready or not, here it comes…don’t be caught hiding behind your laurels.
“I was never a woman who turned heads, but menopause has made me invisible, and I love being invisible. Why did I ever care if strangers thought I was pretty? Worse, why didn’t I think I was pretty at an age when everyone is pretty?” Margaret Renki
As the bartender handed me my glass of wine, I turned around, smiled, and said, “thank you.” This is when I detected a hint of alarm, a near invisible dilation of the pupils, a slight downward shift of the chin, imperceptible raise of the brow. I’m sure the young man was not aware he was complimenting a grandma, or it could have been my imagination, who’s to say? I walked away as gracefully as possible, slightly flushed, to join my gently~aging friends on the patio.
People age, some better than others, but thank God at my age I no longer have to compare. What’s the purpose? I consider it a good day when I find my car keys, a parking space, and remember why I landed in the Target parking lot.
“I finally know the difference between pleasing and loving, obeying and respecting. It has taken me so many years to be okay with being different, and with being this alive, this intense. (xxvi)” Eve Ensler
“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan
Larry says, “what are you ordering now?” as the doorbell alerts us to new boxes on the front porch.
Still in my pjs, sipping coffee in bed, I answer lightly, “nothing, I’m offline, just watching the news sweetheart.”
To be loved so dearly and intently by this man has been an invaluable gift, one that increases in worth, and as the years pass has become uncommonly rare. Was it Robert Browning who said, “grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.” Larry knows exactly how I like my back rubbed, a cool room at night, my popcorn with melted butter, coffee first thing in the morning, the pace when we hike, the rhythm when we dance, the encouragement I needed to break out of my shell, and take flight.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a flip side to long term intimacy, it comes with the territory. He knows the exact words that push my buttons (I have several), open old wounds, trigger an argument. We both do, it’s a matter of discretion, because we can choose to bring them out, or not. The art of respectful discussion remains a skill in process. Sometimes we just move on, decide to ignore those unresolvable issues, but I’ve learned without reconciliation, healing does not take place. I’m sorry might be the two most powerful words in a marriage.
“When you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you…” Warren Buffett
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, we all want to be known, accepted, loved and this I believe is the enormous appeal of old friends. They remember the time you overindulged on limoncello while staying at a villa in Italy, when you commandeered a dinner party with an inconsequential story, and to the annoyance of everyone repeated it several times, the perpetually dirty stove at the lake house that smokes up the kitchen, or your baseball hat phase that lasted a decade, and nonetheless they are not only forgiving, but charmed. These friends have grown old with me, as if a faded photograph I’ve grown used to, and refuse to remove from the living room wall.
“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” Robert Frost
My granddaughter asked me the other day, “do those hurt Grammie?” She was referring to the wrinkles around my eyes. I said, “no sweetheart, not at all.” I’m relishing the freedom from those confining roles of parent, caregiver, volunteer extraordinaire to newly winged senior citizen, glorious, light, wrinkled, and free.
“I’m pretty sure that eating chocolate keeps wrinkles away because I have never seen a 10 year old with a Hershey bar and crows feet.” Amy Neftzger
Writing has become one of my greatest joys. “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you should have always been,” writes David Bowie. I could not have anticipated the enormous endowment of this work. Writing has given me a place to spread my wings. What I didn’t expect was the generous response, the people living in the gap with me, struggling to emerge. I realize the brevity of our existence, the precarious space between past and future, and I’m ever so appreciative of our ability to break through the chrysalis, take to the skies, endowed with wrinkles, and resplendent joy.
“A consequence of female self-love is that the woman grows convinced of social worth. Her love for her body will be unqualified, which is the basis of female identification. If a woman loves her own body, she doesn’t grudge what other women do with theirs; if she loves femaleness, she champions its rights. It’s true what they say about women: Women are insatiable. We are greedy. Our appetites do need to be controlled if things are to stay in place. If the world were ours too, if we believed we could get away with it, we would ask for more love, more sex, more money, more commitment to children, more food, more care. The force of female desire would be so great that society would truly have to reckon with what women want, in bed and in the world.” Naomi Wolf
I’m Living in the Gap, drop on by, we’ll eat some chocolate.
- Thank you Bonny McClain for posting The Gift of Menopause by Margaret Renki, which inspired this post. (check out Bonny’s work ~ she fabulous ~ her name is linked.)
- I’m so grateful wrinkles don’t hurt. Am I alone here?
- “I am thinking about the way that life can be so slippery; the way that a twelve-year-old girl looking into the mirror to count freckles reaches out toward herself and that reflection has turned into that of a woman on her wedding day, righting her veil. And how, when that bride blinks, she reopens her eyes to see a frazzled young mother trying to get lipstick on straight for the parent/teacher conference that starts in three minutes. And how after that young woman bends down to retrieve the wild-haired doll her daughter has left on the bathroom floor, she rises up to a forty-seven-year-old, looking into the mirror to count age spots.” Elizabeth Berg