I know elderly women who haven’t bothered to change their style in over 50 years. Beautiful old ladies still rocking beehives albeit adjusted in height, some wear eyeglasses from the day they received their first prescription yet see no reason to update the frames, the lace in their dresses is a faded off white and they still wear brooches and pearls. They go about their daily lives, their stories and struggles existing in traces of outdated eye shadow colors and matte lipstick smeared over etched cracks of age and experience.
They are comfortable in the period where they have nested and they make no excuses for what you believe is a failure to upgrade or follow current trends.
Elders of yesterday reflect a dimmed limelight of historic struggles, they have walked a noble oft bloodied trail towards their responsibility of becoming a caveat of lessons learned and truths told between generations.
These pearl clutching battle-scarred women of yesteryear comfortably settle into the cushions of ancestry. This is the presumed circle of life, however, I am unnerved by the fact that my peers are running scared in the opposite direction. The women of my generation are fleeing in droves, this supposed looming shadow of becoming a matriarch. All that I know, I owe to the adopted wisdom of an elder.
While I admire the generations of lessons the women who came before us have tucked into sections of purses, stored in pockets of memories; I can’t help but look at some of my female peers today and feel abject disappointment.
Modern day women no longer clutch pearls of wisdom, no longer serve as protectors of progeny. They hide behind video inspired fashions, live vicariously through the fixed lens of reality television, and seek therapy in the clinic of Clinique. Our source of growth is drying up because we are no longer dipping into the griot’s well and sipping from the tribal waters of knowledge. Instead we promote devastation, destruction and to damage before damage is done to us. A legacy of selfishness.
We aren’t passing along, we are passing through.
I admire the elderly women of my day. The nanas, the granny’s, the grandma’s, the elders, the women. The Grand Mother’s of our tribe. They have changed little but their mindset because where fashion is a fleeting fad, hindsight and emotional growth is not. These unfashionable women were sent before us to absorb the impact of humanity, and to hold it close to their breasts, breathing in the stench of life’s twists and turns, holding it deep inside their lungs, breaking down the chemicals of pain and transition to its lowest common denominator, unable to exhale until it was overcome thus safe to release to us.
Today, the notion of becoming a “granny” is found to be a distasteful moniker that women shrink away from in horror. As a result our little girls are raised by little women with a perpetual peter pan syndrome. How can we successfully raise a nation when we refuse to grow up by growing old? Growing towards our worth? Growing into our inheritance as a women? Accepting the magical ability to give a child the benefit of your experience and tap into that area where critical thinking is groomed.
I shudder to think that 30 years from now, our daughters daughters will look upon us, and they will not see proud tribal marks, they will instead see neck tattoos, ink-stained tear drops paling against sagging skin, a shock of grey naps escaping from the tracks of time insensitive weaves, tall tales of tall boys and late nights, rap battles and popping bottles. They will inherit the ability to “turn up” and “shut sh*t down”. Because of our inability to pay close attention to the world around us there will be no stories of worth, nothing to carry in the hearts and minds of our children. Nothing but old lady lumps boldly shoved into jeans no longer so skinny; expensive red bottomed shoes in which she can no more handle her gait as she can her stride.
These are costly shoes I pray our children never walk a mile in.
It is imperative that we spend less time memorizing designer labels and begin to wear the title of Grand Mother by design. We come from an equally complicated and vital era. Our job is to hear and own the world around us so our daughters daughters can learn deeper truths as they sit at the knee of our lives.
The children are watching. What, my sisters, will we show them?