I will never forget my grandmothers Pearl and Ma-Ma, both were descendants of slaves and American Indians. The ladies were amazing cooks. And coincidentally, both were known for their scrumptious blackberry cobblers and peach pies. The delicious desserts were created from the wild berries and peaches that grew on their individual properties.
Ma-Ma, who was fearless, hunted and fished in the dead of night. She’d stew her kills-rabbits, and possums–on her wood-burning stove and fried the trout she caught for breakfast. Pearl loved to crochet and did so at every opportune moment. She once attempted to teach me her much-adored craft, but my tiny fingers could not maneuver the tiny hooking instrument she used.
I learned so much from both my grandmothers. However, as time passes and I become more seasoned, I wish Pearl and Ma-Ma would have shared some of the life-changing things that take place as one ages, and here are a few:
- Bras: I’ve often wondered why my grands wore “brassieres” that hooked in the front when the ones that hooked in the back were so much nicer. Now, I find that I cannot reach behind my back to hook my bra, nor can I hook one in the front and then, twist it around! For some reason, my shoulders don’t seem to swivel like they used to. So, the bras that hook in the front are way more practical after all!
- Skirts: Ma-Ma and Pearl always wore skirts instead of stylish slacks. I used to think they didn’t wear pants because they were just plain old-fashioned. Now it is apparent that pants are just too constricting and don’t offer breathing room.
- Facial hair: For godsakes, why didn’t my grandmothers warn me about facial hair! They should have clued me in on this aging curse! Facial hair is the bane of every menopausal woman’s existence. Chin hair, mustache, scragglies on the sides of my lips! Annoying gray strays seem to sprout in places where they shouldn’t! And speaking of gray hair, why didn’t these fine ladies tell me that my mane would become totally unruly and difficult to dye? And why did menopause also curse me with the female version of male pattern baldness!
- Ugly flat shoes: My grandmothers daily ugly flat shoes completed their uniformed look. I could never understand why older women surrendered to the idea of wearing ugly flats. Well, now, I know why! Little did I know that at my age, I would be hobbling along every time I put on a pair of high heels and that I’d welcome ugly flats as long as they provided comfort. Here I am, stuck with a closet full of fabulous shoes that I can no longer wear.
- Sagging skin: What about this sagging skin forming beneath my chin that totally obliterates my neck?
“Oh Lord, Ma-Ma and Pearl, preparation with regards to all of this aging drama would have been nice!”
- Difficulty seeing: Why did my grandmothers’ complaints about not being able to see the print in reading materials fall on deaf ears…MINE! Now I find myself using a magnifying glass to help my reading glasses along! What’s up with that?
- The disappearance of a graceful sway: Why am I suddenly doing this awkward Fred Sanford waddle particularly when I get out of bed in the morning? Oh, Ma-Ma and Pearl really dropped the ball on this one!
- The knees need oiling: I remember my grands having difficulty bending and kneeling. They neglected to mention how with age comes kneeling difficulty. When did my knees suddenly turn to stone? Forget about kneeling and looking under the bed for anything. My slippers are right where I can see them, since there is no possibility of ever retrieving them under the bed where they used to live. And as far as praying, well, this is now done sitting upright in bed.
Well, I could go on and on about all of the stuff my grandmothers did not teach me about when it comes to aging. But the most important thing I learned from both Ma-Ma and Pearl is about the presence of someone bigger and more powerful than I. They taught me about the presence of a wonderful, forgiving, omnipotent and all-knowing God. They taught me that no matter what I go through in life, God is ordering my footsteps. No matter how old, how wrinkled, and how tired I am, He is on my side and will get me through it all. God loves me, and He loves you too, and this is an invaluable lesson.
Louise Eagle has been writing poetry since the age of 10 and is the author of the poetry book Night Music. She is founder and president of Grandma K.A.R.E.S. Inc., a non-profit that supports kinship caregivers. Louise, who also been featured in two documentaries including, “Families Lost, Families Found” on ABC-TV, divides her time between New Jersey and Kentucky.