My grandma is in the hospital and I visited her last night. She has been in and out the past few weeks. Had a pacemaker put in last week, then was back on Wednesday b/c of blood in her stool (she also has diverticulitis).
She is 84 and has lived a hard life. She and my grandpa had a farm, and she did all the work a farm wife has to do. She worked in nursing homes in her 50-60s. She is stubborn and did everything herself, and still does when she can, although that's gotten harder and harder.
When I was there last night, the nurse was changing her IV. Her veins collapse after an IV is in for a while, and they have to keep finding new veins. She hadn't eaten in a few days, and finally had dinner last night before I got there. She threw up after they changed her IV; she said it was probably too much food on her stomach that had been empty for days.
She didn't have her dentures in. She looked tired and frail. She talked about going into a nursing home but said my aunt doesn't want her to yet. My aunt and her family live with my grandma. They moved into her house 15 or so years ago, so she's never alone. My mom helps a lot too, taking her to appointments and to the hospital and staying with her.
Aside from noticing how frail she was, what got me was her skin. It is thin and crepe-y. Even her skin looks tired--which makes sense since it's the largest organ we have. Her inside upper arms were especially striking to me; not only thin and crepe lined, but flappy. I am not being judgemental, just explaining what I saw.
As I was leaving, I had a little freak out. *I* am going to be in my 80s someday (God willing). I will have skin like that. I will likely have skin like that before I'm 80.
I love my skin. I pamper it with skin care products and makeup and body lotions. I'm blessed to have good genes and fair skin that hasn't been in the sun too much. I don't look my age.
Sometimes I don't have time for body lotion, and I don't put lotion everywhere (like my inner/upper arms). This morning I put lotion on my upper arms. And I couldn't help but think, is there a miracle product I can buy at Sephora that will stave off my skin aging too soon?
Aging is showing up more in my hands than anywhere else. "When did I start getting my grandmothers' hands?" I said to myself a year or so ago. My earliest memories of my grandmothers are in their 50s. And at age 6, I of course thought they were old then.
It's no wonder the beauty industry is a bazillion dollar business. I am freaked by the idea of looking older. Not getting older. Looking older. Obviously millions of other women are too.
My therapist once told me, when I first started seeing her and my primary complaint was the way I looked at 185 pounds, "you know, there will always be something you won't like about the way you look. How will you deal with getting older?" I don't really remember the solution she offered. I was so focused on getting the weight off and fixing my head about weight, I didn't bother processing how I'd think about myself as I got old.
John Ortberg, the Pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian church whose online sermons I listen to, once told the story of an old woman who was beautiful. She was at that age where looks were superfluous, where her spirit shined through her face, and made the wrinkles beautiful. I know many women who fit that description, especially at my church.
That idea gives me a little peace, but it is the END result. It's the journey getting there and the entropy on the journey there that gives me pause.
I don't know how my grandma felt about getting old. I wonder if she gave it much thought; if having 5 kids and a daily life of intense work that didn't depend upon how she looked precluded a concern for the face in the mirror. (As opposed to my life, where how I look plays a part in my business success).
I do know she's used her body to its fullest and she's ready to shed her mortal coil (sorry, English major here). And I think she's ready for a shiny, healthy, brand new body in heaven.
So I guess the take away from this is:
Enjoy my youth and beauty for what it is NOW. Take care of myself NOW--body, mind, spirit (and skin). Accept that I will change. Learn to embrace my changing, aging face and body and love it for what it is. Be thankful every stinking day for everything my body can DO.
As I age, I hope I can see past the wrinkles and sags and crepes and spots...to the spirit-driven beauty within myself.