Recently I wrote a poem about being a book end for the Sister Book series. I am the oldest of 8 sisters and my youngest sister Lisa is the other bookend. Lisa and I keep the books on the shelf from falling over. Having worked in a bookstore for many years, I remember the almost constant job of straightening the books and keeping them in alphabetical order. Keeping my sisters in order is nearly impossible! At any given time one or more sisters may be mis-shelved or out of stock. Family tragedies like death, depression and divorce have struck all of us. One of the threads running through all of our stories is cancer. Half of us have had cancer and that is not counting my own skin cancers. Actually all of us have had cancer because a diagnosis for one is a diagnosis for all of us. One for all and all for one. The Sisters move closer, the bookends lean in to hold the cancer victim upright and on the shelf.
Once again, cancer is making a forced entry into one sister. Surgery is today and we are waiting to hear from her partner that she is out of surgery and in recovery. There will be a flurry of calls, texts and emails between the sisters to spread the news. A collective prayer and fierce hope will follow as we wait for pathology results. We have learned from the past that cancer means a lot of waiting. We all hope surgery will be the only treatment needed but we also know there are other outcomes.
Later: She is out of surgery and in recovery. Things look pretty good. Pathology reports are the next hurdle and so we all wait some more…. The sisters are holding strong.
Who has dinner at 5 o”Clock? The Early Bird Special is for Seniors who might fall asleep in their soup at 7. I am now an “Early Bird”! The time I left to go out for the night in my 20’s is now my bedtime. This is why my friend Susan and I found ourselves at 5 o’clock on a Friday night at Avo’s listening to a band called “The Monday Night Band”. We were part of a crowd representing all ages from a couple of cute toddlers, to young adults, to oldies but goodies like Susan and I. Mostly I was glad to be out of the house and experimenting with being a social animal. Susan and I talked about how our old lady bodies don’t fit with how we feel inside. We look one way and feel another. This is what getting old feels like, this disconnect between interior and exterior.
I don’t believe that our bodies betray us or we need to hold on to youth at all costs.
Living, loving, learning, and earning our wrinkles, is an honest approach to aging. Running from the years on the calendar just makes me tired. It takes courage to stop running and allow the moments to add up to the sum of our lives. But back to Susan and I out on the town at the 5 o’clock hour ….we complained some about how we couldn’t hear each other, decided the band was pretty good (not great), and lamented that the men we found attractive were 20-30 years younger than us. We were invisible to them and certainly long past the adjective “sexy”. I am past my prime and my body has a stamp on it: “Best before yesterday”! Men can morph into distinguished older men, but women “look good for their age” or just fade away.
Since our night out on the town I have become obsessed with my hair. Does my short hair make me look un-feminine? Should I grow it out? Where is my curling iron? I do want to look good and not blend into the woodwork. I keep thinking that there is nothing sadder than an old wallflower. How do I shove off from the wall and get on the dance floor? If I am not asked to dance do I have the courage to take the first step and find a dance partner?
I’m not convinced that opening the Pandoras Box of male/female relationships is a wise move. I loved Roger with all my heart and sometimes I feel disloyal to him when I think about a new relationship. I know this isn’t true, but I still struggle with this feeling. My fear is weakening, and grief taught me waiting for “when…” is a losing proposition. I am popping my head out of my hole, looking around, and trying not to scurry back into my hole at the slightest sound of life. Look for me, but remember you have to come early for the “Early Bird Special”.