Friday, June 25, 2010

Seniority Rules

At one of my nearest and dearest’s baby shower last weekend, I hung out with a 93-year-old Ontario resident who doesn’t look a day over 74. She’s eloquent, exceptionally beautiful (clearly without any artificial intervention), and of unquestionably sounder mind than I am. (It should be noted that she also has exquisite posture.)

There’s nothing like the elderly. I mix well with and instinctively flock toward them - especially the old women. It might have something to do with the idyllic childhood bonds I forged with my grandmother and a great-aunt; it could be that the hardship I’ve already faced has led me to identify more readily with those who have lived twice or thrice as long as I have; or maybe, back at the outset, I was just naturally implanted with an old soul. All’s I know is that I want to align myself with the oldest souls I can find. Whenever one of my friends has a wedding or some other multigenerationally-attended milestone gathering, you can count on me to ignore the people in my crowd and head straight for the grandmothers – and it’s with them I’ll usually prefer to stay for the duration of the event. That’s where the real conversation and insight tends to be. Too many insight-free conversations aren’t good for you.

As far as I’m concerned, elderly women = safety. I become more free around them. The guard comes down because they get me, or at least make me feel as though they do. I view even the very high-strung ones as agents of calm. They’ve beaten any raging insecurity they once had into the ground, and what’s left is a brand of self-comfort and a lack of self-consciousness that’s re-hydrating – and in the desert I constantly find myself slogging through, I’ll take all the water I can get. It’s too bad and too weird that this country’s culture so often chooses to marginalize (instead of magnify) the senior league.

As I continue along the ongoing coming-of-age pipeline, I’m already looking forward to giving back and mentoring any of my junior journeywomen who care to listen. They better get ready - I’m in merely the early stages of building what damn sure promises to be a well-stocked wisdom arsenal. The wisdom-cobbling process hasn’t been a joyride. What helps is that I’m continually inspired and influenced by the counsel of and the example set by a lot of glimmering golden girls who help make my ride a little smoother.


  1. I'll preface this by saying that my grandmother is one of the nearest and dearest humans beings I cherish on this earth. That said, your take on the elderly would take an irrecoverable nose dive if you frequented or lived in Forest Hills. Once an ill-fated choice of mine to live there I was exposed to senior denizens that felt entitled, and dare I say compelled to push the boundaries of social convention based solely on the fact that they had acheived senior status. This meant cutting lines, waving insolently at movie-goers when they requested they NOT talk during previews, and any other litany of petty behavior. And, really, how good can you feel if you tell off a senior? So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. My dear, I'm happy your exposure to senior citizens has been kind. I only hope you continue to bask in the warmth and tolerance this generation can offer and bypass senior dementia all together.

  2. This blog post made me think long and hard about the memories of my Grandmother. She was very wise and approachable like the women that you have described. Thanks for taking me down memory lane. I have truly enjoyed this post.