As a young woman and as a not-so-young woman, 70 seemed the ultimate old age number. I could not ever comprehend the vibrant me becoming a dull, frail old lady. For consolation, I knew if I did reach that milestone, I would certainly reinvent it.
Me, I would skydive into my 70s, zipline into the decade. I would be the 70-year-old that was the envy of 20-somethings. I totally would not be like my grandmother, serenely sitting in her recliner, stroking the cat in her lap, and watching the movie of the week on a Saturday night by herself. I would never stop having fun.
Fast forward to now.
All my worst fears from early adulthood have been realized in this, my final season. My body moves slowly and deliberately. I contemplate whether picking that thing up off the floor is worth the investment of time and energy. My hair has gone from lustrous chestnut to fuzzy white, and often grows in unlikely places rather than just on top. My svelteness has unaccountably morphed into marshmallow-woman, and I think a lot about not falling down.
I lament my children’s inattention. I avoid loud music and crowded party rooms. Had I a lawn, I would chase kids off it.
My choice of foods are not trendy but are quite microwave ready. I eat when and what I like. I never gain (nor lose) a pound. My car has a big interior and easy entry-exit height. I say “oof!” a lot. Stairs are the enemy and elevators way better than escalators. I seldom receive direct eye contact from any human under the age of 40.
I say “What?” in an ordinary conversation multiple times. I use closed captions on my TV.
Me, I am my granny.
And with my granny and aunties, I share a secret. This 70-thing brings with it some frailties along with certain, rather blissful, perspectives. When I sit in my recliner on a Saturday night watching “The Voice,” it is with deep satisfaction I caress the cat and enjoy the show. I feel his relentless and reassuring purring vibrating from my hand to my soul.
The laughter on the screen is contagious and enjoyable. And the dish of ice cream I share with the cat is twice as good, as we both lick our lips.
When we feel like it, at 10 p.m. or 2 a.m., we “oof” into bed, settle the pillows exactly right and get the topography perfect. That is cat on the left side, dogs on right side of the DMZ, which is me, Granny. This pack snuggles, snores and passes wind in deep contentment.
My worst fears are realized. I am old, alone and don’t have much money. And I am happier than ever in my life.
I own my own small business that I run from my home. I open my business day when I feel like it, sometimes at dawn or maybe noon. I work until I choose to stop. I nap, I shop, and I go to the dog park whenever. I tell people exactly what I think, or ignore them completely.
If someone annoys me, they are informed. And if really piqued, I have the time and energy to make it known by emails and postings (favorite new motto “Don’t give bad service to an elderly woman with time on her hands and a computer on her desk”).
My friends are carefully vetted and integrated into my space as I desire. Some days I love to cook for everyone I know. Other times, I choose to share a big sloppy greasy pizza with a small group in a noisy pizza shop. Or a festive celebration for one: fried potato latkes, smothered with applesauce, and eaten so happily while reading the newspaper and listening to the nightly news — all at one time. Granny, multitasking.
I accept the invitations I wish to, and suffer fools poorly. I stop and schmooze with strangers in the street. I offer unsolicited compliments because they are sincere and make recipients glow. I marvel at the smell of saltwater in the air and the new leaves back again for another try. I pause to admire the geese and watch them waddle like me, clucking to each other.
I see young people on cellphones rushing, scurrying or jogging purposefully behind strollers, a dog tethered to handlebars while their babies and I look around, enjoying the scenery.
Mostly though, I take deep satisfaction I made it to be an old lady of 70-something. Today I have no toothache. Everything seems to be working properly, my inner cat is purring and I absolutely love that the new 70 is as satisfying as the old 70 seemed to be for my granny.
Me and Granny, we know something and we share something: a delicious truth. I don’t need to reinvent old age. It is perfectly timed and serves us well.
Donna Powell has owned Charleston Webweaver, a custom website company since 2007. Originally from “Da Bronx,” she lives in West Ashley with her white boxer, Casper, and French bulldog, Bambam, and considers the James Island dog park her second home.