My grandma set the bar for me on how the elderly should roll. I’m only realizing now that she was truly one of a kind. I thought that all grandmas flashed their grandchildren for a laugh and flipped the bird for family photos. She taught us how to play poker, allowed us to say shit (only when playing poker), and played ‘British tea time’ whenever we wanted. She aged gracefully with poise and class, and there was never a shortage of love and affection.
Even though she mothered four children, worked well into her seventies and had lived in a few different cities across Canada, she still maintained a sense of innocence that allowed for open-mindedness and even more so, an open heart.
She was the kind of woman you just wanted to be around. Her liberation from life’s social rules and constraints was comical and infectious. It taught me to not take things so damn seriously. I want to be just like her when I’m older so I wrote this letter to my older-self in the hopes that I don’t forget about that playful spirit she had along the way.
Dear Old-Hot Stuff,
First off, I’d just like to say that I really hope you still wear jeans and that your hair is long. Jeans and long hair. You can do it.
I am writing you this letter to remind you of a few things that you may forget along the way. I know that experience and age-weight may provide you with the assumption that you know it all and you don’t need advise from your 35 year old self. But memory-loss aside, you may have gotten a little too fixed in your ways to remember a life, well let’s just say, a little less-lived.
Remember that time when you left the back door open and the air conditioning was on and bugs were coming inside and nobody died? Those were awesome times.
Life is, shall we say, more behind you than in front so sit back and relax. Let your kids cook you a meal. Maybe they want to take you out for a meal. You may not be used to it but they want to do things for you—it makes them feel good.
I understand that body temperature is rapidly changing for you from morning to night. That must suck. Maybe just try not to mention it so much throughout the day. Grab a sweater and stuff it, you dig?
Whatever you do, please don’t become grumpy. I know it may feel very natural and justified to complain about this or that but you’re just being a downer. You’ve lived this long so you know how very insignificant the small stuff is and how very big the impact of dwelling on them can be for those around you.
If you start feeling complacent, do something you’ve never done before. If you are able-bodied and your spirit is still swirling inside, get out of that chair and do something! You’ll be reminded of your youth if you do.
Try not to nag. I know it’s hard. I know most people don’t know how to do things ‘right’ and you may be the only person left on this green earth who does, but just try to remember that letting people do things their way makes them feel good. Making people feel good will be a large part of growing old for you so just zip the lip and enjoy the trip.
Every time you feel yourself slip into a state of rigidness, think of Grandma Molly and how she left a beautiful imprint on all of our hearts by laughing, not complaining; hugging, not directing; loving, not judging. Life is a series of rain and sunshine—don’t ever get stuck in the mud for too long.