Recently I turned 59.
I went out for lunch with my beautiful friends I’ve known since I was 15. We laughed & joked & maybe shed a tear or two amongst the hilarity. We waved around sparklers & put on stupid party hats.
As we parted ways I took a quick photo of the 3 of us for posterity. When I got home I opened the photo to show my husband & was taken aback by the 3 old ladies staring back at me….Surely that’s not what we look like.
On our happy smiling joyous faces were wrinkles. Especially around our eyes & lips. Our skin was saggy & one of us was jowly (….apparently when the bible said be fruitful & multiply I misunderstood & thought it was talking about my chin). Our eyes have grown dim so we wear glasses & our declotages quite frankly looked like Smiths Crinkle Cut chips.
I found it confronting. Perhaps I should have used a filter to make us look younger, fresher and more acceptable. But the filter only changes the outside.
As I sat with my emotions I looked closer at who we were.
No, we were no longer fresh faced 15 year olds. Between us we have weathered missionary work in harsh unforgiving countries, the embarrassment of a teenage pregnancy, the hardships of single motherhood, divorce, bad marriages, autistic children, the defiance of teenage children. We’ve adopted children & lost a child.
Have been the first responder to the death of a child by her mother’s hand, sat with a dead parent until help arrived. We’ve nursed sick children, sick parents & a parent with Alzheimer’s. Suffered loneliness, absent partners, & misunderstanding. We’ve repeatedly felt the feelings of failure for not being enough to meet the needs of the people we love. We’ve felt forgotten, left out, & unappreciated. We’ve built bridges in family crises.
We’ve reached out to be a helpful part of the community.
And most importantly, worked hard to build loving healthy relationships.
Our faces may not have grown more beautiful with age, but more importantly, our spirits have.
When I looked at the photo properly, I saw 3 beautifully spirited old women, who, with each time they got knocked down, had the strength of character & resilience to get back up again.
Old age may not be kind to a woman’s face & body, but the privilege of living into old age is the beauty of experience, understanding, grace & wisdom.
In the grand scheme of things, who cares about looking old.
Some people never got the privilege….But I have! So wave around those sparklers girls & throw some glitter & put on goofy party hats. Because with all the shit life has thrown at us, we’ve made it to old age.
I’ll let my jowly jaw flap in the wind- I’m blessed, privileged & honoured to be an old lady.
Submitted by my beautiful sister-in-law Dee Ironside