I was reading a post by my writing buddy, A Writer Called Wanda about the aging process. She told a story about aging gracefully and it reminded me of my great aunts and my grandmother.
I grew up surrounded by these wonderful women who I just thought were all beautiful, genteel, dignified Southern ladies. They knew how to dress and they spoke so sweetly and seemed so content and did things. They were great fun to be around and they all laughed a lot, lovely lady-like laughs but genuine laughter all the same. I just loved to see them and I wanted to be like them when I got old.
I'm there and I've come to realize that maybe I did them a disservice. They made it look so easy and I thought it would be. I've started to think I did something wrong. It isn't easy. I'm grumpy and intolerant and annoyed by people.
I know their life stories but didn't think about the issues they might have dealt with when I was young as being issues. I do now. In hindsight, which is always crystal clear, they had to deal with the same kind of problems I deal with - illnesses, children, jobs, spouses, war, death - and yet they seemed to be so ... together. So, I'm now asking, how did they do it? And how do I come out at the end with the same dignity they had despite the problems they had to deal with? I am nothing like those wonderful ladies and it upsets me because they were the ideal. My ideal.
I think the difference is in our expectations. Their whole outlook on life and what it was all about was totally different from this generation. They lived through the depression and scarcity. Through struggles I've never and will never experience when they were young. The world was different and people's brains were wired differently. They lived a different lifestyle. There was no handouts. It was do or die. So they did. They became strong and courageous women capable of building airplanes or spending hours in sewing plants making shirts or hoeing in fields to grow their own food. As they grew older they knew that aging is inevitable, but aging with grace and style is a choice.
I'm a wimp. I had superheros for aunts.
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