I spent an hour the other day looking for an interesting article about women over 50. Not one of the articles I read fed my interests. Perhaps too much of my self-image was formed by television in the 1970s.
For example, I always thought that as I aged, I’d be a lot like feisty Grandma Walton. That woman was respected for the fight in her heart, the wisdom in her words, and her ability to stand at the ironing board, ironing clothes ad infinitum.
Grandma W. always had the solution to any problem, delivered in the same white apron. That was my picture of age — slightly grouchy, still active, dispensing words admired by children who both feared and respected me.
Today I entered a restaurant where a group of women from the local retirement home were wearing antlers on top of their heads and had smiles on their wizened faces. “I want to be like these women,” I thought. Granted, I think this particular group was from the dementia care unit, but so what? They were having a blast without worrying about the size of their lips or their stomachs.
So, I continue to search for fascinating articles about women over 50.
I look for information on how to improve my writing, find new opportunities at work, or serve the world. Instead, I find topics that are very similar to the ones I used to read in Tiger Beat as a 13-year-old.
You know, how to look good to guys, get a date, and find the perfect haircut.
At 13, I looked forward to shedding my acne and bicuspid fangs and experiencing those days of glowing sexual tension. I kept Clearasil in business. I sprayed myself orange with QT, hairless with Neat, and turned my hair yellow with Sun-In. I did it all, and I did it with enthusiasm.
Why? Because I was a pre-teen who believed that if I looked good enough Bobby Sherman and his blue eyes would appear before me proclaiming his love. I worried about my looks because my brain was not yet fully developed.
But now I’m 55-years-old, and while I’m sometimes surprised at the woman I find in the mirror, mostly I find her to be a lot like a Shar Pei . . . wrinkled, but valuable.
So, I look for ways to be as intelligent and wise as Grandma Walton. I want to stand in front of my 20-something children and say something so freaking intelligent that they drop to their knees and beg forgiveness for their sarcastic comments and rolling eyes.
Instead, I’m back to looking hot, dating the right guy, being sexually attractive, and wearing the right clothes. With the knowledge that none of this will bring me Bobby Sherman, I’m bored.
I don’t want to read articles with title such as, “Age is about wisdom but for God’s sake inject that face with something other than wisdom, will you?”
Apparently, women who brought home the bacon and fried it up in a pan are now expected to age with both wisdom and without a wrinkle. We’re being advised by the newest Marabel Morgan, only we’ve traded our Saran Wrap for liposuction and Botox.
Perhaps I should be more concerned about the way I look. Maybe my husband would like to see me in something other than jeans and track shoes. Perhaps people in the lunch cafe would rather not see my back fat.
But here’s the problem — I’m going for wisdom. I’m going less Kris Jenner and more Mother Teresa. I have to wonder if anybody would have conducted an interview with Mother Teresa and asked:
While feeding the starving in Calcutta, did you ever consider getting rid of those hideous lip wrinkles so you can look attractive and serve others at the same time?
Do you ever wish you could give that leper a makeover?
I don’t think so.
As I consider the wisdom of Esther Walton, I wonder if my wisdom potential is tainted by the fact that I once outran a police cruiser with my kids in the car and cut my lights as I entered the cul-de-sac?
Would Grandma Walton have told her college-aged daughter to run out on the football field after a big win even though the administration told them not to?
Would Grandma Walton have fed the children macaroni and cheese out of a box for so long that her daughter didn’t know what real shredded cheese was the first time she saw it?
So, I don’t measure up in the wisdom department. But I still don’t care about my spreading middle, or my matronly shoes, or my wrinkled face. I’ve earned it all.
And I’d like to mention that no matter how youthful our appearance, there is no such thing as turning back the clock. Benjamin Button is a fictional character.
The choice is this — do we leave this world a better place, or do we leave it without a wrinkle on our face? Because no matter how young we look, we will still leave. And in the act of our bodies shutting down, our faces will naturally lose their wrinkles. So, in the end, all will be equal.
Until then, while I might not be coiffed and able to dispense wisdom flawlessly, I consider myself a learner who studies best in comfortable shoes. I’m still striving for wisdom.
Perhaps, for now, I will just binge-watch “The Waltons,” and take notes when Grandma Walton whips out that ironing board.