Category Archives: Aging

Unraveling

Fran Braga Meininger writes personal narrative about the years beyond youth, a time in a women’s life that can be vibrant, fulfilling and wonderful despite, or perhaps, because of all that comes with age. She lives in northern California where she hikes, bikes and lives life in big bites. Today she’s offering us some nostalgia over sweaters past, sweaters loved and some inspiration for our own “unraveling.”

 

Unraveling

I’m that old sweater. You know the one. We all have it, in the bottom of the bottom drawer or the very back of your closet. It’s been there forever. You’ve had it forever.. It was your favorite. You wore it with panache and loved how it hugged your beautiful, young, voluptuous and shapely breasts, back then, before they did what they’ve done now. But it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t look like it did and neither do you. You are fond of it for what it represents. It is a memento of who you were once and how you looked in it.

But now it’s unraveling at the cuffs and the collar. The seams are splitting and the shoulders are misshapen. It’s really done. It has lost what it once had and needs to go.

I’m like that too. I’ve lost what I once had. I don’t look the same. Things aren’t as perky, as tight and firm. I’m not as bright or witty. I think differently, my perspective and my opinions have shifted. My emotions still run deep but they are now tempered with a dose of patience. The candlelight doesn’t dance in my eyes as it once did. But I still have a flame.

I am unraveling in places. I’m starting to shed what I once wore so proudly. I’m taking off what I’ve outgrown and doesn’t fit any longer. I’m allowing what is underneath to show through. One strand at a time, slowly I’m unraveling.

I’m being freed from the shrunken and twisted seams that pull too tightly around my arms. They are tearing away and giving me room. I can finally breathe, stretch, allow my chest to rise with a full breath and exhale. I’m not tied up in knots anymore. The threads have loosened in all the right places and I am tugging at the ends, watching as slowly they come away and reveal below a whole other me.

 

I’m unraveling into something else, someone else. A new sweater that suits me, fits my curves as they are now, adorns this beautiful and womanly figure that I live within. I stand straight and strong. I know who I am now. I know what matters the most and where I want to end up. I may not be done unraveling yet, but I’m on my way, I just need to keep pulling the loose threads.

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How to be Old

Guest blogger, Dina Corcoran is back with her advice on old age for our series on aging.

Dina is a writer of poems, essays, and memoir.  She won the Jessamyn West award for her humorous description of the English teachers she’s encountered along the way. Her poignant story, “Adiós, Francisco,” won another.

The Napa Valley Writer’s Anthology includes a description of her hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

At eighty-two Dina now sees life through the lens of the stroke she experienced a year ago.  Please welcome Dina Corcoran with

HOW TO BE OLD

No one tells you how to be old.  There are no manuals.  But I learn from the old women who are in my life.

Old age has taken most of Dora’s eyesight and given her a walker.   To get around town, she takes the shuttle-bus, which is often behind schedule, and today causes her to be late to our Hat Chat Luncheon

At ninety-five she doesn’t waste time being cranky at the bus.   Dora waits for us to identify ourselves, one at a time, so she knows where we are sitting, and then launches into an animated discussion of the latest political news—both local and national.

She arrives armed with a lighted magnifying glass to read the menu, and gets a little help from those on either side of her.  Before she leaves, this sweet lady has something nice to say to each of us.  She is pleased to be here.

Virginia is another Hat Chat member. She has been enjoying life for 100 years.  But lately her teeth have been troubling her, so we help her select something from the menu that is soft and not tomatoey, because she and tomatoes don’t get along.  She used to be a schoolteacher and has a lively interest in everything and everybody.  Although her hearing is compromised, before lunch is over, she has asked each of us something about our lives.  Sometimes she has to get out of her chair, shuffle close to us, and lean down so she can hear the answers to her queries.

Then there is my old classmate, Noel, who has Macular Degeneration and who was burned out of her home in Paradise.  She has made a new life for herself in Grass Valley.  On the phone she talks incessantly about her houseplants and knick-knacks she’s installed in her new home. The beauty of their arrangement delights her.  All of life delights her.  Her last Email to me concerning the power outages was titled, “Ahh, Life!”

Melinda who lives down on the Big Sur Coast handles country living with aplomb.  We’ve known each other since the third grade and have mutual admiration for each other.   Her house is in the wilds, surrounded by steep mountains covered with redwood trees— which often threaten to burn.  It is worth it to her, because it overlooks the turbulent ocean.  It takes a strong woman to live there.

Her latest housekeeping adventure involved sweeping out the garage and finding a rattlesnake coiled at her feet.  She grabbed the shovel, and taking a deep breath, cut off its head—all in a day’s work.

These women teach me that even with the hardships of old age we can take delight in each other and the world, revel in beauty, and be brave.

 

 

Don’t waste time

being angry at a late bus,

Have something nice to say.

Arrive armed

with a magnifying glass;

keep a lively interest

in everything and everybody.

 

Notice the beauty

of your knick-knacks,

water your houseplants,

Delight in life.

When necessary,

cut off the serpents head;

Be brave, be alive.

 

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Young Again

 

 

Please welcome talented artist and writer

Elizabeth Stokkebye

 

YOUNG AGAIN

Young again

with a past

that

 was my future

I daydream

and I do

as I please

I flirt

and I dance

and have sex

I dress

in layers

and in colors

I write

with seams

and stratum

I look back

by looking

forward

Time

Is

timeless

Elizabeth Stokkebye is a writer and a painter of Scandinavian descent. She lives north of San Francisco. She holds a BA from the University of California at Berkeley in Scandinavian Studies and an MA from the University of Washington in Scandinavian Languages and Literature.

Elizabeth likes to tell stories, whether in words or with paint. She draws from fairytales and literature when writing and painting her figures. Her family, ancestry, and history are the foundation from which Elizabeth’s creativity and imagination spring. She combines her love for art and words on her website.

www.elizabethstokkebye.blog

 

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Filed under Aging, Inspiration, Poetry, Students