I just gave a talk on “Which Old Woman Will I Be?” as a part of “That’s What She Said“–a local women exchanging stories event. It is a key/core story of mine. I’m not sure why, but I have always thought about what I’ll be like when I’m old.
I’ve always been fascinated by people and why they are the way they are. I’ve observed family and family friends age over the years and nothing has really surprised me at how they “ended up.” Seems to me that we just become more of what we’ve always been.
I had two kinds of grandmothers.
Grandmother didn’t have a television, but always had oatmeal raisin cookies and coke (in small glass bottles). She was widowed and her widowed sister lived with her. She was not particularly warm, but she was not unkind and was soft-spoken. Her sister, Auntie, bought the latest comic books for us to find when we came. My favorite was Chip and Dale. There wasn’t a lot to do there, but it was peaceful.
Grandma had a television, but could not be interrupted during her shows (I remember As the World Turns and Guiding Light). She was sharp-tongued, distant, and not kind, as I recall. Definitely not warm or peaceful.
It made me wonder what they had been like when they were younger and why they had become who they were.
They had both had difficult lives with young families. Both had been widowed during the Depression. Neither had great wealth, but were comfortable. Both had fiercely loyal children. One ended up self-absorbed (from a young granddaughter’s perspective) while the other was more approachable.
Who we will be when we are old and in our ThirdThird is going to be a less-filtered version of who we are in our younger years, our SecondThird, in particular. The older we are, the less we are concerned about others’ opinions of us and we have less energy to pretend.
I find that a lot of us have two kinds of grandmothers, if we have been so blessed to have two whom we have known. One we feel (felt) closer to. The other more distant in our affections.
I think about how I want my grandkids to remember me. I want to be the Grandma who is (was?) understanding, supportive, encouraging, kind. The one who shows up and doesn’t pretend, who says truth but is graciously tolerant.
And, maybe, the one who let them watch a little more television than I was supposed to.
I’m beginning to get a glimpse of what kind of old woman I will be and I am going to keep working on making sure I’m one of the nice ones!