My sister Ann and I were cruising down the highway towards Myrtle Beach last weekend, and among the many topics of conversation, aging came up. While there are advantages to getting older and hopefully wiser, anyone with a little age on her has to have noticed some subtle but certain physical changes.
Like for instance, I used to love wearing turtleneck sweaters, especially black ones from the Gap. In fact, I’d say that for several years jeans and a black turtleneck was my signature ensemble. Then a couple of years or so ago, something looked wrong, and after staring at my image for several moments, I figured it out: it was my neck and chin. Alas, a sagging chin and steadily wrinkling neck were the culprits. Vanity, thy name is woman! What did I do? Why, I changed clothes of course, and I’ve never donned a turtleneck since.
There are other changes too. Eyes get all crinkly and wrinkly around the edges. Skin loses elasticity and sags. Collagen is in shorter supply too. Yes, I know I could take care of many of these things with a few thousand dollars and a surgeon’s knife. But will I? It’s not too likely. It would hurt like heck, and besides I have better uses for my money right now. Think: grandchildren, traveling, beach house, and so on. Sister Ann feels the same way.
What we decided is to try to appreciate the way we look now because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that things are going to get a lot worse. We just wish we’d appreciated being youthful in appearance when we were younger babes.
On Friday, I leafed through Oprah magazine and came across a short piece that stopped me in my tracks. No more whining or lamenting lost youth and firm chins. On the last page of the magazine (this month’s, I think), there was a photograph of Oprah walking along with a woman who had a veil over her face. Oprah had her hand on the woman’s arm as if guiding her along. The woman’s name was Charla, and she was mauled by a 200 pound chimpanzee last year. According to the article, the EMTs who responded to the call didn’t even recognize her face as a face; it was that ravaged by the chimp. She’s blind and has one finger, a thumb. Still, she enjoys the marvelous feeling of the sun on her face, and Oprah was taking her for a walk so that she could feel the warmth of the sun.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’m thinking that if I ever whine about wrinkles, sags, or tired eyes again, I need someone to slap me…hard. I don’t have to cover up with a veil when I go out, and though I look much older than I used to, I feel fortunate to have eyes to allow me to see that for myself. Plus, these eyes can see the dear faces of loved ones, birds in flight, colors, words, and Christmas lights.
Life is good. I’m thinking that maybe I’ll see if I can find a black turtleneck hiding in a drawer somewhere and put it on. If I can’t find one, maybe one of my children or my sweet hubby will read this and buy one for me…must be from the Gap, however. I’ll wear it with humility and think of Charla.