reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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frankie’s wisdom. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

there was an emphasis on beauty long before mass media made natural aging formidable. women and men, but especially women, went to lengths to be beautiful, taking great pains to conform to whatever was the current measure of beauty.

but in the past century – later 1900s through now – there has been a shift to devaluing the aging process, to undercutting the beauty of what aged looks like. the look of youth is prized disproportionately and has made middle age look inadequate. we are under siege and it is increasingly impossible to measure up to those decades younger.

there is no good reason any woman of any age should be feeling that beautiful is not unconditionally hers, is not inherently attainable. there is no good reason any young woman, glowing with new maturity, should be feeling beauty-challenged. there is no good reason any woman on the menopause roller coaster should be feeling that beautiful is bygone. there was no good reason my sweet momma, at 93, should look in the mirror and sorrowfully cry, “i look like an old woman!”. on the contrary.

the confidence, just like the wrinkles, has been earned over a lifetime of living, over struggling to be healthy, to be engaged, to learn, to be active. there is no measure for the wisdom gleaned and the story each of those wrinkles might tell, the love and struggle and perseverance each grey hair might represent, the days in the sun playing with children and grandchildren reflected in crepey skin and the lines next to her eyes from laughter with her friends.

just like hallmark aggressively pushing made-up holidays or the internet naming days as “national – whatever – day” compelling us to be involved, mass media on all levels, in all arenas, has foisted “youthful appearance” upon us as the measure of value, of validation, of relevance.

the cultural preoccupation fighting the intrinsic processes of aging is surely a mark of ignorance, of superficiality, of contrived campaigns for products and images from which we should gracefully walk away. transformative surgeries and injectibles and laser work are on a stunning rise. for what?

surely in this society we are not as inept as it seems at helping others, particularly women, to develop self-esteem, positive body image, confidence.

surely our preoccupation should be on frank lloyd wright’s words, “the older i get, the more beautiful life becomes.”

my daughter – naturally amazing and naturally beautiful and naturally talented was not even twenty when she chose those words – in french – as her first tattoo. ink as a reminder. words of wisdom.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB.

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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the piñata. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

middle age is called that because it is the middle of aging. with that comes a bundle of surprises that seem to arrive overnight. suddenly, new wrinkles. suddenly, crepey skin. suddenly, age spots and creeping-on lovehandles. suddenly, menopausal insomnia, achier joints, keeping track of rest areas on the way to everywhere. suddenly, jowls. it’s like a piñata that is slowly letting out candy, treats to relish with this person you are aging with.

we have decided that we simply cannot pine for what our bodies were like or could do back before we knew each other. now is now and we are lucky to have that. and so, we will celebrate the laughlines and the readers and changing bodies and funny long errant eyebrows. we’ll roll with the surprises as they arrive, with gratitude, laughing as much as we can, and we’ll stay right here in the middle of this aging thing – together.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB.

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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my dad’s jowls. [d.r. thursday]

over-exposed and blurry. that’s how i prefer photographs of me these days.

this morning i opened facebook and there was one of those “you have a memory” pictures. it was from nine years ago when my girl graduated from college and she and i and one of my nieces were all in a pub gathered closely together. adding to my over-exposed and soft-focus-photo-capture-desires, this memory looked different – younger – than when i looked in the mirror shortly thereafter. hmm. the marks of time.

my sweet momma would look in the mirror and, in a singsong whiny voice whine, “i look like an old woman!” she was 93. i would gently remind her both that she was a woman of age and she was amazingly beautiful wearing that age. but as i look into the mirror each day, i’m wondering if she was as dismissive of my words as i am dismissive of david’s “you’re beautiful” compliments. we are so hard on ourselves. our grooves, impressions like the ones in the carpet at the old family home, are earned from the long haul, from all that we have encountered, from the sun in day and dreams at night.

the wear and tear – or lack thereof – on each of us belies the courage and tenacity beneath the surface. we keep on keeping on, adding a wrinkle here or a grey hair there. i thought i was getting used to the appearance of tiny evidences of middle-aging until one famous morning. it all had gone basically unnoticed until that one day when i looked in the mirror and WHAMMO! my dad’s jowls had appeared. what?!? i stared at myself. my dad’s jowls stared back. it was all i could see. what on earth had happened overnight??

i ran to the next room to get a photograph of my sweet poppo and, sure enough, there they were. a perfect match. i pulled up a recent photo of my dad’s sister, his only surviving sibling, and voila! there they were. i am in a perfect-harmony-trio of jowls. i looked for a picture of my sister. though i was hoping to, i didn’t really see any jowls. what’s up with that, dna? seems slightly unfair to me. ahh, indents and jowls. the marks of time.

i look sideways to the window as i write this. below the sill are a variety of lines in the wall, many of them. on summer nights, when the window was wide open and you could feel the breeze blowing and the sweet smell of mown grass drifted in, this was the window that babycat jumped into to sleep. his lumbering body stretched out on the sill, he would lay there throughout the night. in the morning, he would put his paw down in front of his body and drag it along the wall to carefully get down out of the window. the scratched lines remain. indented in the wall, i am not eager to remove them in these times of dearly missing our beloved cat.

one day, like the vacuum that will remove the ridged lines in the carpet in david’s parents’ living room, a little sanding and paint will remove these scratched lines. but their import won’t go away. the sofa that sat in the living room may no longer be there, but the times spent there will always be a part of that space. the scratches on the wall may be fixed, but the cat that graced our lives will always be a part of this space.

the jowls that are now on my face will remain, however, and i suspect become more pronounced, just like the wrinkles and the grey hairs. all that i have been – including the times when i didn’t care about over-exposure and blurred photos – will remain. all that i have experienced, just like you, makes its mark. and we will be lucky if we someday glance in a mirror at 93 and whine-like-we’re-45, “i look like an old woman!”

jowls or not.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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“live life, my sweet potato”

“butts are in!” she said, as i walked out of the fitting room and pirouetted in front of the three-way mirror, studying my reflection and the new jeans i had tried on. “good thing,” i said, off on a rant, bemoaning menopause catching up to me. sitting on one of those man-benches outside the fitting room, david laughed and rolled his eyes. buying jeans is one of the worst undertakings for a girl, i told him. it just isn’t easy. nothing about it is easy. no matter what age you are. there is so much to think about, so much to worry about. david said it seems much more complicated than “boysbuyingjeans.” ha! the understatement of the century, eh?

momma looked at me many times, straight in the eye, and worriedly said, “i looked in the mirror today and i was shocked to seephoto-1 an old woman! i look like an old woman!” goodness gracious, momma, you were 93! momma had every single right to look like an old woman. matter of fact, she was the most beautiful old woman i have ever seen. all those amazing wrinkles she earned through life, those eyes that have seen so much, the laugh lines around her mouth, the easy smile, that look that could stop all motion, the little scars- the one she got from playing field hockey, the one she got from a golf outing. beautiful. beautiful. beautiful.

recently scordskiii wrote to me that he is “always slightly baffled by the extreme nip/tuck stuff going on with 50-something women.” the pressure of looking “good”, the worry of not looking “old”. he continued, “there is something to be said for growing old gracefully…hell, it’s a gift when growing old is an option…bring on the wrinkles!”

every time we walk past linda’s house she stops us and cuts flowers for us, sending us home with armfuls of stunning blooms. we protest, saying that she is cutting too many, that she should save them for herself or not cut them. she always shoos away our protest, hugs us and sends us on our way. they are there to cut, she says. to be enjoyed. she is not worried about what she has cut or what she has left in her flower garden. she is embracing the beauty of the flowers she can share. we are grateful. for the flowers and the hugs. she doesn’t worry about the wrinkles it leaves in her garden.

photo-3the other night we sat on the edge of the deck. it was twilight. the air was still. little sun was left in the sky. we could hear the birds readying for the night. in the distance we could hear the foghorn. we held hands. and sat. quietly. then we let dogdog out. he ran rampant around the backyard, his joyful smile leading the way through the hostas. at first i cringed, thinking about all the hours this backyard has taken and how quickly his aussie body can make it look – well – pretty wrinkled. but what would life be like without his exuberance? what would it be like perfectly perfect? the trade-off would be huge…like botox for life, not just cosmetic. shaving off the highs and lows, the spectrum would narrow, maybe even to a point of comfortable predictability. but who wants that anyway?

last december, at some random moment, momma called. after saying hello she said she called to tell me something. i waited, held my breath and listened. “live life, my sweet potato,” she said. “live life.” i exhaled.

photo-4with these wrinkles, this butt, this backyard, all the messiness, the highs, the lows, worries or not, i will, my sweet momma, try my best – to live life.

on sunday he said, “do not worry about life. instead, drink it in.”

yes.

photo-2

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