Yesterday I shared a guest post from Caitlin called “I Want to Grow Old”. I had a friend question me on whether or not I had thought about the implications of this. It took me a minute to answer because I was so shocked by the question. Had I thought of the implications of growing old?
Where to start…
When I was in my early thirties I ran a custom dressmaking and tailoring shop. I had 5 seamstresses. One of my ladies was a plus 70 women named Marga who had decided to work for me because retirement was boring. One day while celebrating a birthday and making the usual “over the hill” type comments regarding aging, Marga, who was always very light-hearted, suddenly got stern. She grabbed a tape measure and called us to come look. She folded the tape measure so that only 100cm were showing. Then she asked us each to locate our age on the tape measure; we were all around 30. Then she made the following statement that I will never forget.
“This tape measure represents a fortunate lifespan. Most people don’t make it to the 100 mark. You all sit about the one-third mark. I sit at about the two-thirds mark, if I am lucky. You don’t spend birthdays lamenting that you are another year older. You celebrate that you have been given another year.” She told us that these were words of wisdom from her grandmother and that she had made a commitment to pass it on.
I can honestly say that as much as I wanted to take those words to heart I didn’t. The message that I had received while growing up was that as youth fades so does one’s worth. In fact, Marga was the first older woman who I had known who celebrated her age and honestly seemed happy in her own skin. Marga’s message did stick with me, however, and a few years ago it really hit home.
We’ve lost several young friends. Some were at the halfway mark on Marga’s tape measure and some didn’t make it to the one-third. To my point in yesterday’s blog, we all come with an expiration date but we don’t know what that is.
More importantly, however,
we don’t come with a best before date.
So have I thought of the implications of growing old? You’re damn right I have and to Caitlin’s point, when I grow I up I too want to be old. I want to go as far on Marga’s tape measure as I can. I’m going to celebrate every birthday as the gift that it is because