Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Standing on My Head

A family friend used to brag about how her grandmother stood on her head for a minute on her seventieth birthday. I absolutely intend to do that in about four weeks when I am seventy. I’ve been planning on it since I heard about my friend’s grandmother back when I was a teenager!

Getting to be seventy is probably more of a milestone in my mind than any of my other significant birthdays. At sixteen I just wanted my driver’s license. At twenty one I had already had my first drink. At forty I was not over the hill, but just at my prime. At sixty five I’d been retired for a year already. But seventy seems old. My dad was already dead at seventy. My mom died at 77. This is a serious sort of thing to think about.

My face tells me more than my mind does about this matter. Who is that pruney person who looks at me from the mirror, anyway? Not the sprite that prances around in my sense of self, making far flung plans to do amazing things with her life. The person I see in the mirror as I brush my teeth is just an old lady who has not yet brushed her hair and doesn’t plan to right away.

The children are encouraging me to use Skype to instant message back and forth between here in New Jersey and my smallest three-year-old and one-year-old grandchildren there in Seattle. I like a lot about the idea and have downloaded some free software. I still need to buy a webcam and find a headset with a mike to use. But that is not the only hold-up.

What worries me the most is how I look! Most of the time I spend (and it is a lot) at the computer I am in my bathrobe and have not recently brushed my hair. Makeup? Never, unless there is a shopping trip near at hand. Will I scare the living daylights out of my grandchildren?

What I will end up doing is testing the waters ahead of time, and arranging the lighting behind the camera at the most flattering angle and to shine on the side of my face that is not so wrinkley. My left lower jaw is missing two teeth so that cheek is caving in. Sounds so unattractive, but that’s just the way it is at a few weeks shy of seventy years old.

One good thing is that I will visit the grandchildren in a few weeks. I figure that by the time I leave the kids and I, filled up with the mirth of songs and stories and baseball games in the rec room, will have provided good groundwork for an ongoing correspondence.

So when I get back home to New Jersey, I will get out the guitar and get in front of my webcam to continue singing the old songs and talking about the world they live in, and they will hear and see the fun of it rather than the slightly worn person delivering the music. We will be able to chatter without shyness, and they will know me well for the next visit later this year.

The best part of the plan is that I will make a special date with them for my birthday where they will witness the amazing feat their seventy-year old grandmother will do in front of the web cam!! They will have bragging rights until THEY are seventy! So there!
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