For mature audiences only

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By Camille McClanahan

Recently, I spoke to my mother on the phone. Here’s how it went. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

“How is Kim doing?” I asked.

“Well, Edith said that she has very few wrinkles,” she answered. “But, she weighs 190 POUNDS. She’s just let herself go.”

“Uh. Well, what I really meant was how is she recovering from her broken hip?”

“Oh, that—she can put the weight of one toe on the floor and has to use a walker,” she said.

Now, we had been discussing my cousin’s accident and broken hip in every conversation for several weeks. So, when I inquired about her well-being, one would think my mother would have focused on that; however, appearance is of utmost importance to my mother and her sisters, as it was to my grandmother—their mother.

“Come closer,” my grandmother called weakly from her death bed. “I want you to lay me out in my long-sleeved blue dress, paint my nails and make sure you put some ‘blue’ (dye) on my hair. Now, get those tweezers over there and pluck this hair from my chin.”

Yes, appearance is important—and my family doesn’t cut you any slack for—just getting older.

But admit it ladies, it gets more and more difficult as time marches on. For some of us, the hair on our heads has thinned, and mysteriously—we’ve started growing a beard. Not a long and flowing beard—but an annoying, unseemly, sparse smattering of prickly, as the commercials say, “unwanted facial hair.” Then, you surprise even yourself at the exorbitant amounts of money you begin spending on magic creams that promise to erase those creeping lines. You suffer a few more aches and pains and when you dine out, the clerks ask, “Senior discount?” How do they know?—you think to yourself vainly.

Does the adage hold true, that ‘misery loves company?’ Not necessarily. I hate seeing movie stars age before my eyes. I’ve been distraught ever since the airing of “The Andy Griffith Show Reunion: Back to Mayberry.” And personally, seeing Opie bald is really disturbing. Furthermore, I’ve not been the same since my beloved Barnie (Don Knotts) passed away.
It doesn’t stop there. Have you ever awakened during the evening newscast to hear Lee Majors, better known as the “Six Million Dollar Man” from the 70’s TV series, mumbling in a meek monotone voice. In his former life he was like a superman with bionic parts and now he’s pitching the rechargeable Bionic Hearing Aid. If that isn’t bad enough, Florence Henderson—aka Mrs. Brady is selling denture cream and—yes—Henry Winkler—the Fonz, is trying to talk seniors into a reverse mortgage.
The gorgeous stars of yesteryear trail across our TV screens with, what looks like, plastic faces—their eyes are stitched so tight that they can’t even blink and their lips are so plumped, they look like ventriloquist—speaking without moving their mouths.

No—old age has no prejudice—the bold and the beautiful, the rich and the famous—they’re just like we are. The truth is—getting old is not for the faint of heart. A myriad of health problems, financial constraints and the loss of friends, family and life-long companions are just a few of the challenges we face.

Yet, when we were younger, we never appreciated God’s grace and the dawn of a new day as we do now. Sometimes we loved things and used people, instead of loving people and using things. And it would be nice to say, “Now we’ve arrived. We have all the answers.” But the more we learn about life, the more we realize—how little we know.

Admittedly, I’ve fallen into the: ‘She’s just let herself go’ category—but I’m going to work on that (starting again every Monday). I think the best thing to do is—to keep going, doing and loving—and I have that advice from some of Grant County’s own ‘living treasures:’ Agnes Beach, Anna Mary Gordon and Caroline Ransdell.

“You don’t think about getting old,” 100-year-old Ransdell said. “You just live.”

Let’s “just live”—but just the same, girls—keep a good pair of tweezers handy for that inevitable 5 o’clock shadow.

(Linda Lawrence is the editorial assistant for the Grant County News. She may be reached at gcneditorial@grantky.com or by calling 859-824-3343.)