Senior Elegance

By Roberta Beach Jacobson

Senior Elegance

Oh, what in the world do you buy a woman for her 100th birthday? Despite some lovely colors on offer, none of the cardigans seemed festive enough for such an occasion. I knew my fashion-conscious aunt would approve of the pale blue cashmere with the pearl buttons, but was it good enough to mark such a remarkable birthday?

Was any gift? I wondered.

Even Aunt Sandy, who usually scoffed at birthday parties, understood turning one-zero-zero was huge news. The White House even sends congratulations to those few who reach the century mark! How many citizens can boast they are expecting a birthday greeting from the President?

Her mom, my grandmother, had made it to ninety-nine. I remember a day filled with balloons and blooms and fancy packages of every size. Telegrams and greeting cards filled the house and celebration was in the air. Ninety-nine was a family first. At that time, my grandma was by far the oldest person I knew.

We must have fantastic genes in our family, and my Aunt Sandy was chasing down a milestone few of us can even imagine. When she invited me to her party, she reiterated how she ate small portions and kept her intake of caffeine and spirits to a minimum. Then she disclosed her super secret for a long life.

“I always stay out of the sun,” she told me. Her dermatologist had just told her she had the skin of a seventy year old.

Respecting the power of the sun didn’t seem so unusual. I was expecting a more earth-shattering announcement. I don’t know what, maybe that she secretly performed three hours of yoga every day or had discovered a special blend of herbal tea.

Whatever her methods, she was twice my age. Without a doubt, I wanted to show up at the birthday girl’s door with a bouquet of flowers to make her ooh and aah. Would others bring cut flowers? Of course. I instructed the florist to dream up something spectacularly artistic for my Aunt Sandy. Such a birthday was no time for me to fret about money spent.

I also ordered a special assortment of blond brownies from the bakery, figuring others would show up with token cakes or cupcakes. No simple cake could take the weight of a hundred candles! Out of respect for my aunt’s caloric intake, I requested the bakery cut my gooey goodies into extra tiny squares. The bakery promised to decorate the box with silver and gold ribbons, something fit for a queen.

All that was left for me was selecting Aunt Sandy’s main present. Deciding took me weeks of poking around catalogs and trendy boutiques. Even experienced department store clerks had few ideas to offer for pleasing such a senior senior! Friends hinted about buying my aunt blouses and sweaters. Red, yellow, beige. My head was spinning. There weren’t many days left for me to select a gift.

Recalling my aunt’s sage words when she turned ninety, “I’m not old, I’m elegant!” I decided to present her with scarves of the finest silk. Aunt Sandy could match them up and show them off with her new assortment of blouses and sweaters from the others. It would be a win-win.

Wanting to make sure she’d make a fashion splash that would turn heads, the largest two scarves were blazoned with top designer names from France and Italy. That’s how it was that the birthday box I carried to her party that day was as light as a feather. She could shake it all she wanted and not get a clue about the contents.

Everyone says a polite thank you after opening a birthday present. How do I know Aunt Sandy really cherished her gift from me?

She wore her stunning French scarf on her one-hundred-first!

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4 Responses to “Senior Elegance”

  1. Sounds almost an exact opposite of my wife’s Aunt K, 100 this year. Her name is Katherine, but she calls herself K (gets cross with people who spell it ‘Kay’). Finally sold her last car two years ago. Wouldn’t let me use her logger’s chainsaw when she was 86. Handed in her shotgun two years ago (in an outer London suburb!). Had ovarian cancer removed in her late 80s and wanted to take it home with her…

  2. Great choice! How elegant. I’m sure it made her feel very special.

    Morgan Mandel

  3. Defi says:

    I still love this idea and I think I still have her address. My frined texted her frineds and relatives the other day with her son’s cell number and asked us all to inundate him with texts of “Happy Birthday” which I still need to find out how he liked, but I thought that was just too cute. Plus if he doesn’t have the number stored in his phone, he probably won’t know who most of them were from. LOL!

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