I believe I have the dubious distinction of being the oldest female in my family. No woman on either side claims to be a day over 58.
So, I am gonna evoke the special ’55 and Holding’ pattern passed down from generations of wise women, and have decided to go no further in personally exploring the grim spectacle of aging. Nope: leave that exploration to others.
Oh sure: I am definitely planning on being on the planet for a good many more years. But for those remaining years I will (like American Airlines) establish a gently wafting holding pattern over TheAirportofLife, until the Air Traffic Controller invites me to park my lumbering jet on the runway.
Take my grandmother, for example. I know for a fact she was never a day over 55 herself. She was: clever, sharp, witty, sly, strong, independent, feisty. (OK, for my parents that could also have translated to: annoying, quick-witted, sharp-tongued, politically incorrect ….) She didn’t like to rely on anyone for anything; but when she did hire someone younger, they had darn well better meet up to her expectations if not her energy level.
When I brought The Peanut Gallery over to ‘meet Granny’ for the first time, undoubtedly he was expecting a bespectacled old lady in a rocking chair, knitting and making stew. We pulled up in front of the house to observe an orchard ladder snaking up the huge street tree in front of her house, which had badly been in need of pruning for years and, not wishing to evoke bad luck, we carefully walked around it.
WAIT – was that a human grunt (and not a bird peep) coming from near the top of the 15-foot tree?? Close observation revealed the bottom of a familiar foot perched on the top rung of the ladder, shaking slightly like an errant vulture perched on a power wire as it danced to the accompaniment of a vigorous sawing tune.
Me: “GRANNY! Is that you up there?”
Granny (…obviously thinking it was too bad her progeny didn’t inherit her intelligence…): “Who do you think it is, the Milkman?”
Me: “I thought you were hiring somebody to prune this?”
Granny (annoyed): “I’ve TRIED hiring people. Every few months I try. I’ve waited TWO YEARS. If you can’t get a job done right … DO IT YOURSELF, I say. So, HERE I AM. Out on a limb. So to speak.”
Me: “Where’s Grandpa?”
Granny: “Where do you THINK? He’s watching Walter Cronkite. When I left he was muttering something about ‘revenge’ “(…Granny’s love for Walter and Grandpa’s resulting jealously paired with his elaborate plots for Walter’s demise were legendary).
The tree rustled and shivered like a lion in heat and the chatty conversation abruptly halted.
Granny: “Big one’s comin’ down NOW: heads up! TIMBER!”
…and a branch the length of a car came crashing down, nearly beaning poor Bill, who was still adjusting to the reality of a granny who climbed trees and wielded a tree saw like a bantam lumberjack.
“That’s my granny!” I told him proudly as, mouth agape, he viewed the wreckage. “And I’m gonna be the SAME oneday.”
“A lumberjack?” he asked, confused and still in shock.
“NO – ’55 and holding’!” I responded. At nineteen this still seemed ancient – and entirely plausible that Granny WAS that age (even though she had ‘been 55’ for the fifteen years I had known her….)
She was magic, after all, being from The Old Country. And some of that likely would ruboff on me…
So I am here to say: it’s my birthday 2day, and I’m 55 and Holding, as of this year.
(Heck – why be conservative. I’m actually 28….)