Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Old and Older

I was really struck by a couple of blog posts recently--one by  a woman I read regularly but have never met and another by someone I see occasionally in person. They've both written about the A-word. Aging. 
I will turn 59 while stuffing myself with turkey and pie which seems like adding insult to insult, but who knows, maybe I can channel the whole deal into some kind of feast of abandon.

I feel like I've had good role models in the arena of getting older. My grandmother was round and silver-haired with gleaming dark eyes, but she grew up on a farm, and for years lived without plumbing or electricity in a log cabin that my grandfather restored. Plucking one's eyebrows and contemplating crows feet by kerosene lantern? I doubt it. She raised seven kids, chickens, and goats, and a garden. I don't think she had time to worry about aging. I'd bet in that time and place women thought far less about such things.

My mother lived in Baltimore in the 1940s. She was a glamorous beauty then, but eventually moved back to small-town Iowa and married my dad. My dad was 26 years older than she was. No wonder she always seemed so confident. You're always the young babe if your husband is old enough to be your father. Still, we had no money for babe-e-licious things. When I made my First Communion and she made a rare appearance at the church, she wore the decade-old suit she'd been married in. She didn't die her hair, and as far as I know, has never had a professional manicure, pedicure, eyebrow arching, waxing, or anything else. She looks pretty darn good for a woman of 87 who's had cancer and has nearly died a half-dozen times. She looks right.

And here I am. Gray and a bit plump, looking my age. Which in the land of botox and boob jobs, means I look at least a decade older than other women my age. I'd be lying if I said it didn't piss me off a little. The bratty little girl inside me wants to whine, "Not fair," but I could go get dyed and highlighted, injected and tucked just like everyone else if I wanted to. I just don't want to. I feel the same way about all that primping that I feel about bacon: I've had my share. I'm a vegetarian now, and other than haircuts every couple of months, and my monthly pedicure, I'm done with it.  Of course in my perfect world, all divorce settlements would include an ample stipend for stretch mark removal. And who knows, maybe I'll wake up one morning, look in the mirror completely horrified and start dialing dermatologists. Maybe. But maybe not. When your husband leaves you for a woman who's twenty years younger, you pretty much have to accept yourself for what you are: I'm 59. I'm having one hell of an amazing time, and I'm alive.

But I should probably use a little more mousse in my hair, don't you think?


Elizabeth said...

Well, I do know you and you are so beautiful that anyone who reads this blog needs to know that. Your skin glows, your eyes are warm and twinkly; your teeth are white and your smile lights up your whole face. AND you have a good body for someone twenty years YOUNGER than you.

So there.


Anonymous said...

I don't think you need any mousse!

Mel said...

You look great. You're right, and I thought about this after I whined all over Ms. Moon's page - a few generations ago, who had the luxury of worrying about aging skin? Heck, a few generations ago, we'd be at the average life span, so in the grand scheme, wrinkles and the aging indignities sure beat the alternative.
I'm with you on the fixing and the coloring - it's not for me, I'd still be the same on the inside, and I don't do well with pretend, so I'm aging the old fashioned, natural way.
I'm thinking kerosene lanterns or at least dimmer lights might be helpful, though.
Thanks for the perspective.

Ms. Moon said...

Well, we know where I settle on the argument if there is an argument. We must do what feels right to us.
And in so doing, we may find we are more beautiful than we knew.
As in your case...

Anonymous said...

You look lovely just as you are, especially love your hair. I'm grey as well but started dying it again last year. It's just hard swimming upstream.

Steph(anie) said...

Mousse... I see what you did there :)

You, my dear, are BEAUTIFUL.

Birdie said...

Seriously? You are gorgeous! You don't need fucking mousse. Do you know what is in that stuff? Same as all the other crap women are filling their bodies with. Stay looking as you should. It is perfect.

S Kay Murphy said...

I absolutely love "Birdie's" comment here. I've never met you... but each time I read your blog and see your profile picture, I'm proud of you... because your hair is so beautiful... just as it is. When I stopped coloring my hair ten years ago, my son said, "You'll never get another date." I'm 57. He's just about been right... but I don't think it has to do with the color of my hair.