Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not Your Father’s Grandma

I have to admit that aging is made easier for me thanks to my heroes. My heroes are those women I run into everyday who are amazing, dynamic, fun human beings in addition to being older women. I just recently met two of them.

While Christmas shopping, I stood behind one of them in the long, long bathroom line at the department store. She looked a little like a jeans-clad Auntie Em. “I say we storm the men’s room,” she announced, elbowing me conspiratorially. “We can do it if there are several of us. Are you in?”

I laughed and nodded, but this was before I realized she was serious. “It’s not like I’ve never done that before,” she laughed. Well, me either, frankly. But I found out men get very upset when women go into their bathrooms, even though all of those stalls just sit there while we needlessly suffer. Go figure! But besides that, men’s rooms creep me out a little. That foreign wall décor is just icky….

My almost-partner-in-crime, Auntie Em, was a little miffed with me when she found out I was a wimp. That’s okay. She was still my hero just for thinking about it.

Then there was the woman I talked to at my hiking group. She had to be close to twenty years older than I am. In town visiting her mother, she said. The mother was in her nineties. The daughter, the hiking one, is a therapist, she told me. Still working, of course.

When she started asking questions about me and I told her I was divorced, she turned to study me for the first time. Her eyes took my breath away for a second. My mother’s eyes. Fierce eyes. Fiercely sharp and fiercely good, all at the same time. She pronounced me a “courageous woman” in a way that made me feel frightened and moved and oddly transparent. I like to believe that sometimes God sends people to deliver the messages we most need to hear. Courageous woman. I secretly carry these words like a totem, a gift from a wise Earth Mother, hug them close to my soul.

She told me about her various groups. Biking is over, she lamented, as is kayaking. And swimming of course. So she hikes. That was when I realized she had been slowing her pace to stay behind enough to talk to me, because I was starting to get a bit winded on the hills.

I know who I want to be like…when I don’t grow up.  Happy New Year!

That is what you love a friend for: the ability to change your angle of vision, bring back your best self when you feel worst, remind you of your strengths when you feel weak. ~Erica Jong


  1. Oh, that was great! Yes, I believe that god does send those people to us as well :) And I do love Erica Jong one of my first writing hero's :D

    Happy New Year!
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  2. I had a strange experience at a friend's wedding. Her Zen teacher officiated over the ceremony, and declared I would make a great Buddhist (I think I'm remembering correctly; it was a couple of decades ago). This was after we talked---about nothing substantial---for a brief time.

    I think people put off different "vibes" and some people are tuned in enough to read them; many are not. Having met you the other day, I can see why someone would say that. People have stories written on their faces (not wrinkles) and burned into their eyes that can be seen by people with fierce spirits.

    By the way, were you a bit worried about the quiche? The top of mine looked a bit "frothy" and I was worried the egg was not quite cooked. I kept thinking, 'Are we both going to be violently ill soon?' Perhaps I was just suspicious, with the whole display case deal...

  3. Oh, I forgot. I'm like Jules. Erica Jong was one of my first writing "loves" and including a quote by her sent me reeling back to when I was sixteen (or close to that age). Thanks.

  4. Excellent heroes and completely understandable.


  5. Tam, loved this post, as always. You know how I sometimes say "still waters run deep" when I comment on your writing? I just thought of that again when reading Sioux's thoughts about you, now that she's met you. In fact, now that I think about it...you two are similar....kind of quiet in person (at times!), yet write the most beautiful, touching or hilarous things!

  6. Tammy,
    Old grannies have guts and gusto and sometimes we're visited by those angels.

  7. Thanks, Jules!!

    Sioux, I'm hugging those words, too. ;) I can see you as a Buddhist! And yes, that quiche was a bit scary. Of course, that didn't keep me from eating it.

    Thanks for stopping by, Pearl!

    Thanks, Becky! And we both eat really old quiche that looks like fake food, too! :D

    Amen, Linda!

  8. I love meeting up with ladies of a certain age that blow my socks off with how sharp and active they remain. It gives me hope.


  9. Pat, that’s exactly it!

    And you know, although I agree with Sioux’s statement and am madly in love with the phrase, “people with fierce spirits,” I think the therapist knew through intuition, logic AND experience that women my age don’t just up and divorce someone without some very serious reasons.

  10. Lovely that you met this Woman who gave you hope and courage! After all the horrendous abuse you've been through, you have managed to find the truth and the good in life. It's too bad that some people still cover up and lie about the situation. Being a single parent and being left nearly destitute is not easy to start over from. You're amazing!

  11. Thanks, Anonymous! But it’s far better to be destitute than to live with a controlling spouse. Your kind words actually inspired an upcoming Totally Random Tuesday post, so hope you'll be back!


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