All the preparation in the world will do nothing to lessen the silent explosion that descends upon us the only way time knows how to travel. Defying lasers, cat gut and high end facial abrasion, gravity descends in subtle waves and full-on attack, claiming new territory by the minute.
I began mental preparation when I was 59; a lot of good that did. By 62, I was in a quiet state of panic. By 65, denial had become impossible to sustain, even on good days.
I would like to say I made the transition from bud to fading blossom gracefully, but I cannot. I never judge another woman’s choice for surgical intervention; it simply wasn’t for me. I’m an old nurse; saving things is what I am trained to do.
Also I am a collector and admirer of junk and antiques, finding comfort in well-worn patinas boasting generous use. I love chipped paint and rust, and admire the simplicity of unsophisticated lines and primitive art.
I patch, re-purpose and restore, but never refinish.
So treating myself differently than I would an old crate made no sense no matter how much time I spent standing in profile in front of the mirror pulling a cascading chin back to a more flattering pre-menopausal position.
I wrung my hands for years fearing the great evolution would morph my lovely pear into an awkward apple, feeling as if that day would strike like a bolt of lightning, or like a tragedy at sea, the captain of a sinking ship lost to sharks in uncharted sea.
But if anything, passage was silent and endearing as I fell in love with the soft, loose texture of my own skin, and the pinkness of my scalp shining like new planet in an unexplored galaxy of snowy hair. And I was oddly amused by the sound of my voice, the way it creaked like sore knees around words spoken more slowly and with less certainty than before.
Like a memory of the chair I rocked my babies in, I can see our history in my hands. And I like that. A lot. So now I am between a walker and heels. I never hold my stomach in. Hate Spanx and the likes. Wouldn’t wear one even if it was a gift.
In my sewing studio I have a photo gallery of women who inspired me in life. They have all passed away now, but I see them in my face every day, with my glasses on, of course. And I want to be like them. Graceful, full of joy and palpable peace,
a mischievous spark shining in my eyes as I creep toward 70.