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Guts and Glory

I come from a long line of gorgeous women who aged beautifully into their eighties with pride and gusto. From grandmothers to aunts and cousins, they all realized that they were truly blessed to have lived such a grand full life, but they weren’t giving up on their looks…EVER! They creamed their faces nightly and went to bed smelling like Noxzema. (God bless their husbands). They moisturized every morning and never left home without make-up, rouge, and eye-make-up galore! They wore snazzy clothes. Next to skincare, haircare was a priority hitting the beauty parlor weekly.

My Aunt Jean even wore false eyelashes into her eighties even though sadly the older she got, the more lop-sided the lashes got! And she never missed her manicures and nail over-lay application. Most impressive was that she was born a brunette but in her mid-thirties, she got a wild hair, if you will excuse the pun, and became totally blonde truly believing that blondes have more fun! It wasn’t until she was in her eighties that she let her tresses gray-out!

Now as for my maternal grandmother, she used to say she hated hanging out with old people and bitterly fought moving to a senior facility because she felt that she was too young at eighty-two to be there. And it wasn’t until she was eighty that she stopped dying her blue-ish black hair and finally surrendered to the gray. The family all thought she looked softer and younger as a result of the natural transition, but she hated hearing it. Nana, whose favorite color was hot pink and wore it religiously, had a stubborn streak, and would have never admitted that the family was right!

Just yesterday, my own mom who is eighty-eight asked to borrow my lipstick. She lives at an assisted living facility but refuses to leave her room without it. Before the move, she had thirty-seven tubes of the stuff but because she is now somewhat confused, I only set up five tubes on her new bathroom counter.

You see, Mom’s generation was the lipstick-wearing crew, never going anywhere without it. She used to tell me to never go to a store to try on clothes without make-up and lipstick in place or nothing will look good and you will come out empty-handed. She was right as usual!

And mom, who has never dyed her hair and accepted the salt and pepper look with grace, still sets her hair with bobby pins and wire curlers of yesteryear every single night before going to bed. I have never known her to miss the regime knowing she would not leave her room if her hair were not combed out properly with lipstick in place. I get it. I really do. And I hope I will take care of myself that well if I am lucky to make it to eighty-eight.

So, as you can see, all of my female role models aged with quite a bit of attitude. None of them had any kind of cosmetic surgery, but then again it wasn’t as popular as it is now. All of them have said they were just grateful to be alive with decent health. They often said age was in the mind of the beholder. Age is just a number. Wrinkles only appear where smiles have once been. Age only matters if you are a cheese! And the saying I heard the most when I was growing up was that growing old is not for sissies, but it beats the alternative! Yet, as you have read, they may have talked the talk but didn’t always walk the walk. They surely never gave up on their gumption and desire to look younger.

Who knows? Vanity may be a negative thing when we are younger, but perhaps it keeps us young mentally and physically the older we get! I started to believe that more so after I read the book “When I Am Old I Will Wear Purple.” It’s a marvelously encouraging rendition of narratives from many writers about their aging experience.

It’s crazy to think about, but I certainly work in a job that thrives on vanity. I used to say that I was going to retire from TV before HD cameras entered the studio because of their clarity to expose every flaw. But I’m still at it! I simply hold on to the fact that most of my viewers have been with me for forty-eight years and are probably having the same insecurities as I am.

Just last month, I noticed the dreaded sag under my upper arms. It’s one thing on my upper leg because no one sees that unless I am in a bathing suit. But you can’t wear sleeveless tops and not feel self-conscious when the Jell-O-like Bat Wings as they call it are flapping in the breeze! I actually prefer the term Angel Wings! My eyelids too seem to be drooping. But you know what? I am alive and so far, not facing any chemo or radiation. And I get up every morning feeling so blessed.

Let me salute and thank the beloved women in my life. I would NEVER say that they aged “gracefully” accepting the changes that come with getting older. Their aging dance was never a ballet, but more like a jitterbug on speed!!! They loved life and faced it head-on with vigor and a lot of hard work to look beautiful and younger at all times. And they all wore purple right to the end. God willing, I am trying to have the guts and glory to be just like them!

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