My original title for this was “Why Old Ladies are the True Rulers of the World.” I was trying to embrace the power and strength and…. and….
ok. I have a confession. I’m in awe of the Old Ladies in my life. I have been trying and trying to write this because I truly believe that, if there were no old ladies the world would stop spinning, the sun would go cold, gravity would lose its hold and the universe as we know it would cease to exist. There is no certain age at which one becomes an Old Lady. Somewhere WELL past 40. When you get to 80 you’ve been there a good long time. Some ladies are there at 60, some only getting close. Most of them have silver hair. But not all! Most of them are tiny and frail in appearance. It’s a trick! Don’t let them deceive you! They are stronger than any big muscled body builder on the beach. There is a common notion of a cookie-baking, afghan knitting granny sitting in her rocking chair occasionally yelling at children to get off the grass but my experience is that there is so much more to the story.
I can’t seem to tidy this up into the beautiful, poetic tribute I was hoping for so instead I’m going to share a few of my favorite amazing Old Lady experiences ( in no particular order) in the hopes to give you just a glimpse of the power of these awesome ladies.
A little side note: my husband says that the ladies won’t like me calling them old. I disagree. I think they embrace their graduation from the idiocy of youth. These girls are surprisingly tech-saavy for a generation that is new to computers so if they are reading this, know that “Old Lady” is the highest term of praise I can think of.
#1. Ruth and her toilet-plunger cane. Our church hosted a “ladies night out.” There were about 15 women there. Half were “Old Ladies” and the other half were “Young.” The young ladies came in exhausted, grumbling about grouchy husbands and naughty children and bosses that just don’t understand. Sometime after dinner was served someone started teasing one of the Old Ladies that her cane looked like a toilet plunger and she just ran with the joke. Five minutes later the whole table was in uproarious laughter. I still think about it and giggle sometimes and it’s been weeks! The Old Ladies lifted us all up and made the night memorable!
#2. The UMW and the blue-haired boyfriend. I lead a group at my church for teen mothers. When we started it the “young” people were afraid that the “old” people would object. On the contrary, the United Methodist Women’s Group immediately offered to host baby showers for the girls. At the very first shower the Old Ladies were serving tea and crumpets (not literally, but I can’t remember what we ate & it sounds lovely to say “tea and crumpets”) when the baby’s daddy walked in. He was wearing ripped jeans and a nose ring and had styled his hair in royal blue spikes that stood 4 inches tall. The “young” women gasped, “Oh no! What will the Old Ladies do?” The Old Ladies pulled up a chair for him, made him a plate of tea and crumpets and never batted an eyelash. The new family doesn’t attend our church, but they do talk about how kind and accepting those beautiful ladies were that day.
#3. Judy & her bawdy remarks. I honestly can’t think of a specific example and I wish I could. This lovely lady is a married great-grandmother who attends very nearly every church event, teaches Sunday School and volunteers with a group that helps women from other countries learn our language and culture. She is well spoken and kind and gentle and every now and then she’ll tell the funniest dirty jokes you ever heard! The Old Ladies are NEVER crude, but neither are they naive little blushing maidens.
#4. Violet’s quiet strength. This tiny little lady is married to a tall, broad-shouldered mid-western man who just can’t do everything on his own anymore. She takes care of him every day. She bakes cookies for the congregation each Sunday. She babysits. She works in the yard. She just goes and goes and goes….. I have seen her weep but I have never heard her complain. Instead she gives thanks for her strength, for her children, for her health (as a cancer survivor, she especially celebrates her health), for the sunshine, for the noisy, naughty little kids in church…. I have much to learn from Violet.
#5. The other Violet & her wild days. The other Violet is my mom. What a woman! She divorced when I was still little and raised my sister and I as a single mom (my other sister and big brother were already grown by then). She dragged us to church at least 42 times a week (probably more like 3 but it felt like more when I was 14) and gave us an unfaltering moral compass. Now her children are grown and she parties with her peeps at the Del Web community every day and often well into the night. She is the youngest, wildest Old Lady of them all!
#6. Pauline’s endearing love. Pauline married her beau when they were just out of high school and World War II was in full swing. He served overseas for years and she did all the amazing things that women of her generation did. They were married for over 60 years and she was still laughing at his silly jokes and holding his hand every Sunday as they walked out of church before he passed away about a year ago. I never, before his passing or after, heard her say a single negative thing about her life-mate. She was the wife I hope to be to my husband.
#7. Lynwood’s driving. All I have to say is “the little old lady from Pasadena” has NOTHING on Lynwood. This 90 something granny should give lessons to the folks in Indianapolis.
#8. Eileen’s calm. Eileen raised six children, ran a farm and worked full-time as a nurse. Nothing rattles this woman. When my baby was very young, I was agonizing: He seems hungry but I’m not supposed to feed him! He’s only supposed to get breast milk but he’s so big and he seems so miserable and….. (you get the idea of general new baby freak-out). Eileen said, “Oh goodness. If he’s hungry, feed him! And I did. And he was happy. That kind-of sums up Eileen. I think Nike took their “Just Do It” slogan from her.
#9. Beryl’s tatoo. Beryl is only just barely an old lady, I think. But she has embraced her years and so I’m including her. She loves her silver hair because, as she says, “it gives me permission to say whatever I think.” A few years ago she got a tatoo on her ankle as a celebration of her age. Every time I catch a glimpse of that little flower it makes me smile.
I could think of another 50 examples if I sat her long enough. Rosalie, Glendora, Chloe, Joan, Anna……. but it all comes down to this, I think:
Young ladies worry. They worry about the their husbands and their jobs and their children. They worry about politics and money and the environment. They worry about their weight and their hair and their clothes. They (I) often allow worry to steal their days. Old Ladies have seen enough of life to know that things happen. Good things happen. Bad things happen. Not everyone can be beautiful in the same way but we are all beautiful as individuals. And so they embrace each day and they live and they laugh and they hardly ever think of themselves as old.
This is my special thank you to the Old Ladies for being a part of my life. You are, each and every one, an inspiration.