It’s week four of the month-long Take a Shift Tuesday series.
Tonight’s installment is the most light-hearted of the series. It’s also the shortest.
I first drafted it in order to memorialize some classic quotes from members of a beloved age group: women in their eighties.
Sometimes you don’t have to be all serious to take a shift. Enjoying what is, seeing the beauty right in front of your face? That’s one of the best relaxatives this world has to offer.
The Golden Eighties
August 23, 2018
It appears to me that the most self-assured of all the decades, should one be so fortunate to make it there, is the 80s. (Though one dear 80-something in my life might not call it good fortune.)
My Grandma Alice, for instance, is 88 and counting. (To avoid confusion, this is not my grandmother with Alzheimer’s whom you may have read about previously.)
I asked Grandma Alice recently if she’ll make it to 90. Her mouth said “probably,” but her tone said “unfortunately.” I snorted at her response, which was met with one of her smirks. I’ve often wondered how many times her humor has been lost on others.
“You know why they call them the golden years, Jamie?” she occasionally asks. “Because it takes a lot of gold to stay alive.”
Perhaps that’s true, especially given this generation’s perspective on money. At the oldest, these women were born with the Great Depression and grew up in its midst. At the youngest, they were born toward the end of its devastation. As a result, tendencies that I would consider frugal are seen as just plain sensible.
Just this summer Grandma decided she’s lived long enough that she can splurge and buy Charmin toilet paper for herself instead of whatever’s cheapest.
Her luxury is my norm; Charmin’s the only toilet paper I’ve ever bought (shoutout to ultra soft). But don’t think Grandma’s gone soft, least of all with money. She’ll continue to buy toilet paper at Dollar General because the price is better.
This is a generation that knows of sweetening tea with canola oil when sugar was rationed. A generation that strictly walked to school. (Grandma recalls only one boy in her school who drove a car. He was in charge of the family farm, and so, as soon as school dismissed, he hastened home to work.)
These matriarchs grew up wearing skirts and now largely wears wigs. And hearing aids. And false teeth for that matter.
Last summer I was in a visitation line. I knew the woman behind me, a grandmother of one of my childhood classmates. At one point, the man standing with her offered her a cigarette. “Nah, it (smoking) makes my false teeth fall out,” she said.
Can I get an amen for the matter-of-factness of these gals? They’ve spent their lives mincing garlic and meat. There is zero interest in mincing words, too. Which is exactly why, when one 80-something complimented her 80-something friend’s wig, this was the response:
“It’s not good for baking. You have to hold onto it when reaching into the oven, otherwise it gets baked too.”
Grandma says they call them the golden years because they take a lot of gold to stay alive. I think it’s because if you’re lucky enough to be part of their conversations, they’re pure gold.