W – Wrinkles and All

WWhen I was young, there were two types of characters I played well. One was a Halloween style witch. I had the cackle down.

When I was in my early twenties, I had the opportunity to play the witch in a haunted house at a camp I worked at. We even had make-up artists that came. My costume and cackle were successful. Several children were terrified. Only, their terror made me feel awful. I told their counselors to bring them to the change room afterwards where I let them help take off my make-up to see that it was only pretend. I have never enjoyed scary costumes since.

So each year when Halloween comes around I choose something that I think is fun and beautiful. I have been a renaissance woman, a Mr., and a clown. Some years it has only been a silly hat or accessory.

This past year I told the children I was going to come as someone I think of as beautiful. And what is best about this image, this person is someone I will someday be. I chose to dress as an elderly woman, comfortable in her own skin, wrinkles and all.

I think a woman I met in my early twenties began showing me the beauty of age. I was staying with a friend from university and went with her to a youth gathering at her church. The young people met at the home of an elderly woman who proudly thought of herself as seventy-some years young. “I don’t plan on growing old”,  was her gentle smiling explanation. Her smile and warmth lit the faces of each young person there. I remember thinking I wanted to be like her when I grew older.

P1040577bShe was the person I thought of that day when I donned the grey hair, the longish straight dress and comfortable shoes. I slowed my walk to an easy step, stooped slightly and spoke with the slightly breathy ease I remembered she used. I even scrunched up my face to find my own someday wrinkles to accentuate with paint that day. I enjoyed the double takes as some didn’t recognize me. More, I enjoyed the hugs of some students who thought I made a sweet elderly lady.

At the end of the day, the costume came off, but the memory of that slower paced, comfortable being that day remains. Yes, I am going to enjoying being an elderly person comfortable in my own skin, wrinkles and all.

Even if one of the students thought I was the witch in Hansel and Gretel.

To the old woman in my dreams
June, 1998

Wise old woman
with craggy cheeks
and scarecrow limbs,
you have been my quiet strength,
my steady honesty.
With all your abrupt,
honest evaluations
of me,
you have been my sanity.

You have not bowed to the pressure
from outside to
Conform!
Fit our mold!
You have stayed real
and strong
despite my own devaluing,
my own distancing,
my own terror
of you.

It is no wonder
that I do not fear
growing old,
you wait for me there.
You know
that whatever my life is like now,
then I will wear your face
and will not be afraid
to accept your quiet strength.

Wise old woman,
I did not recognize this
about you
until now.

– L.J. Andres-

 

 

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4 thoughts on “W – Wrinkles and All

  1. tchistorygal

    I’m not comfortable with the wrinkles and extra padding and loose skin that comes with getting older, but I enjoy more self confidence, experience, and long time friends, who love you in spite of the wrinkles and extra padding. 🙂 There are trade-offs.

    Reply
    1. ljandrie57 Post author

      I am extra padded in this picture as that was my memory of the woman. It was nice taking the opportunity to just be. We are all so different. Glad you enjoyed this.

      Reply
  2. Laura Hile

    Thank you for this, Linda. I remember my shock and surprise to look into the face of an elderly friend and realize that she had the eyes of an eighteen-year-old—my age! Who she was had nothing to do with the body she was in.

    Reply

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