“Let us cherish and love old age; for it is full of pleasure if one knows how to use it.” – Seneca
The other day I had the great pleasure of sitting next to a women that was many years my senior. While I was familiar with this woman from previous engagements, I hadn’t spent much time getting to know her personally and admittedly had some preconceived notions that her character was that of a “sweet old woman”.
Within a few moments of sitting next to her, she began to grill me on why I didn’t have any coffee cake? Everyone else at the table had coffee cake, and the fact that I had none was unacceptable. Even after I offered that I had just eaten a scone, my excuses were ignored because a scone isn’t coffee cake and that was before, and this is now.
Several other women joined in the chorus demanding that I try the coffee cake, so I submitted. Afterall, if it was half as good as they were saying, I would have regretted not at least having a bite. When I returned to the table with my coffee cake in hand, I noticed that everyone else at the table had cleared their plates.
As the program started, I took a bite of the coffee cake, and it was indeed very good. But I was already full and certainly didn’t want the sugar in my system, so I stopped after one bite and left the plate in front of me. As I shifted my attention to the speaker, I turned to see that the woman next to me was now wearing sunglasses. I remember wishing I had brought my sunglasses because it was indeed a bit too bright in the room. Then the women leaned in and said she wanted my coffee cake.
We were immediately called out for being disruptive. It was in the most lovingly of ways, but nevertheless, it was clear that we should not be talking amongst ourselves and that our eyes belonged on the speaker. I whispered to the woman to take the cake and started to push it towards her. She refused and pushed it back.
Of course, this sweet, old woman was too proper to take food from me. I contemplated going up to get her a new piece of coffee cake. I imagined her refusing out of politeness, so I refrained. A few minutes later, I saw her hand inching towards my coffee cake. I tried again to push the plate in front of her and she refused.
Then a moment later, I looked down to see my coffee cake in her hand and she was bringing it back towards her mouth. She whispered for me to “look away” as she ate the rest of my piece of coffee cake. There was nothing that could be done to stop my laughter. This woman was gleefully eating the piece of coffee cake without a single care in the world. She was not a sweet, old anything; she was a woman living her best life.
Towards the end of the meeting the group was discussing movies. The women next to me announced that she would be seeing “Puss and Boots” which is a children’s movie. A few of her fellows poked a bit of fun on her for making such a choice, to which she responded that “her granddaughter told her it was good” to which a voice from another table boomed asking her to tell everyone how old her “granddaughter” was? To which she replied, “42 years old”.
While the movie conversation died out amongst the group, it carried on at my table. The women next to me, was unapologetic about her choice and said she’d meet with whoever at the theater and they could see whatever they wanted but that she was going to Puss and Boots. My heart was now in full blossom of admiration for her. She was going to do what she wanted to do and that was that.
Regrettably, I was not able to go to the movie, but I sure wanted to. Being around someone who has leaned into aging and in turn dominated it, is a very desirable person to be around. I spent the rest of the day giggling to myself randomly at the thought of the women next to me stealing my coffee cake and telling me to “look away.”
Today, I will lean into aging and take comfort that as time moves on, I will only continue to refine myself and my place in the world. As time passes, experiences will smash worry, and self-assurance will reign if I let it.
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