Last night, I took a long, luxurious soak in my awesome new bathtub, washed my hair, drank wine, read my Entertainment Weekly, and felt pretty good. Pretty relaxed. At ease. A couple hours later, it was time to brush out my hair and get ready for bed.
HALT! HOLD EVERYTHING!
What the hell are those atop my head? Last month there was only one. Now there are three: gray hairs. I know, I know, it’s just part of the whole getting older thing. I won’t be able to say anything here that hasn’t been said before. But seriously, I don’t feel like a gray haired lady yet! I still love to dance and wear high heels! And what is it they say about wisdom? I feel like a goofball most of the time, short on words and advice, long on self doubt and gaffes.
I have taken care of these infiltrators with a box of Loreal #60 Medium Brown, but I know they’re there.
Here’s the thing: with age, you’re supposed to get wiser, right? More at peace. Calmer. Sophistication personified. I feel like a drooling monkey, pudgy in all the wrong places, troubled by memory loss and inflexible joints (seriously, who thought PiYo would be a less stressful workout?)
Getting older sucks. Seriously. But…
Two of my favorite people in my entire life were my grandmothers. And they got older. They did. And I adored them anyway. And so did their husbands. And their children. And their grandchildren.
My grandmothers were awesome. Both were elegant and loving, and gifted in their own ways.
June was a Paula Deen style cook, worthy of her own television show. She could decorate the most beautiful home and was even featured in a newspaper once for her unbelievably verdant houseplants. She never had a mother of her own, her father was murdered when she was a young woman, she lived in a tent alongside Lake Brownwood with her new husband, so that he could heal from health problems. She was fashion model beautiful. When my grandfather came home from work in the afternoons, she and my grandfather would dance the Foxtrot in the kitchen, he oblivious to the flour covering her hands.She taught me about the importance of skin care, the principles of three in decorating and that sitting on the porch watching birds was, in fact, a valuable way to spend time. She died at 61, of breast cancer, and her hair was just starting to go grey. It was a lovely salt-and-pepper mix, and always styled in that gorgeous set that women wore in the 70’s.
Juanita was a Victorian throwback who always sat with impeccable posture to visit with her guests, including yours truly, no matter if I was seven or seventeen. She looked straight at you when you talked, and listened with her complete attention. She was not the master chef that June was, but she always provided warm, nourishing meals and made jam from the muscat grapes that grew in her back yard. She was a master seamstress. I, along with her daughters, countless debs, and the majorettes of Texas Tech University, all stood at attention in the pink bedroom while she hummed, pins held in compressed lips as she marked hems. She was a polio survivor, and her poor twisted limbs never, ever stopped her. She learned how to drive and got her first license in her late 70’s. Her own long hair stayed red with the most striking white streak right into her 70’s, and I loved to watch my Aunt Molly brush it and pin it up for her. After chemotherapy caused her hair to fall out, it grew back in tight white curls. I missed her red locks.
Last weekend, I went and saw “The Age of Adeline,” a film in which the main character, Adeline, experiences a scientific miracle that halts her aging. She is forced to watch her own daughter age into an old woman, she can’t spend a life being married, she protects herself from all long term commitments and ties, lest someone discover her secret. Played by the stunningly beautiful Blake Lively, she looks perfect in every era of fashion, from 1920’s flapper to 1960’s hippy to today’s beaded column evening gown. You think you would make a pact with the devil to have that time, and that figure, for all time to come! But at the end (spoiler alert!) she does begin aging again, and that first grey hair, after 80 years of being ageless, is a miracle to her.
Aging is, unbelievably, a gift.
So, here’s what’s coming, though not gift wrapped with a pretty satin bow: a wattle neck (dear jesus, I will need strength and humor to get over that), floppy arms, long boobies, and spotted hands. A cool gray pixie, a la Judi Dench. Continued efforts to stay fit, like the 85 year old lady in China who works out 90 minutes a day at home. Sewing for my eventual grandbabies. Gardening and developing a green thumb for my fairy garden. Time on my patio watching birds. And hopefully, with concerted effort, the grace of my grandmothers.