Wikipedia describes a crone this way:
The crone is a stock character in folklore and fairy tale, an old woman. In some stories, she is disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. The Crone is also an archetypal figure, a Wise Woman.
I like the facet in that definition of being a wise woman. I don’t think having a magical or superpower is such a bad thing either. Maybe in future episodes of the X-Men there will be a Crone. Maybe there already is a character with that name – I must confess I am not that up on the X-Men beyond the Hollywood movies. I am working hard on understanding the imagery around ageing in our culture.
The being older thing creeps up on you. One day you are getting carded at the bar and then suddenly you are getting carded for the senior’s discount at the drugstore. I forget that the outside, the physical body, doesn’t match up with the way I feel inside. I forget how old I am and at times I fail to act my age (whatever that means). I think that is why so many of us have been enjoying the Netflix series Grace and Frankie. Here are two women, in their seventies, who are vibrant, have style and are living very full lives. If figuring out how to be a woman is a challenge in our world today, wait until you get to figure out how to be an older woman!
I am almost finished reading Anne Lamott’s latest book and I can tell you don’t wait for my review. Grab a copy now and start reading this book. You won’t be disappointed.
I just heard the term ‘Grey Pride‘ this weekend. I love the idea of being proud and embracing our age. It is part of what drives me to let my hair go grey. I want to discover all the goodness that comes with getting older. It is liberating.
This week I had coffee with a young man. He is celebrating his 28th birthday this week. He asked me, “At what age did you start to become aware of your own mortality? When did you start thinking more about your own death?” I’ve been thinking about it a lot in the last few years. I told him I think it happens when you hit your 50’s. Your 30’s & 40’s are a blur of career building and parenting. Then suddenly your kids move out and you start to look at your life differently.
As I’ve reflected on his question, I’ve decided there are a few major life events that provide the conditions to start thinking about death.
1. Health: Your own health influences how much you think about dying. And apparently the reverse is true as well. The more you think about dying the more you focus on healthy habits. Last year, when I was diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t help but think about death. My own death. Melanoma is scary and deadly. So, I thought a lot about dying. Anyone I know who has had a serious illness has thought about death. No matter what their current age.
2. Grandchildren: Now that I am a nana (to the most beautiful little girl – in case, I haven’t mentioned it) I think a lot about the fact that I am ageing and that there is another generation coming along. It is a natural progression but when it becomes parts of your reality, you come face to face with your legacy in a different way.
3. Your Parents: My dad was just diagnosed with dementia. It has been a sad few weeks for me. As I watch my parents age and their health decline my own mortality is once again brought to my attention. My mother is only 20 years older than me. I often look at her and think ‘that’s me in 20 years’. Many of my friends have lost a parent by this stage. When I ask them about it, they all tell me it feels like the passing of the torch. Your parents no longer are the family matriarch and patriarch – you become that person in your family.
So, it happens. Time marches on and one day, you find yourself thinking about how much time you have left. Although we never really know, in your 50’s you know that even if you live until 80 you only have x amount of years left (you can do the math). So, what do we do with that awareness? I’ve been thinking a lot about ageing well. I’ll blog about it soon.
I always find August to be such a transitional month. If any month could be called ‘liminal’ it is this eighth month of the year. The nights are cooler, the mornings darker and the foliage seems to be losing some of the lushness of July. This morning when I went for my early morning walk the street lights were still on.
And then there is the calendar. September is always so busy. We hold off on making plans until ‘the fall’. I find my clients aren’t really interested in booking too much until after Labour Day. I have had several conversations with friends about ‘getting back to work’ or ‘getting focused’ or ‘getting thing in order’. I know we have aligned our lives to the school year and as a society we tend to orient our lives around September as the beginning of a new year. I often hear people comment that September feels more like the beginning of a new year than January does.
So, when I think of transition and this time before we settle into things once again and get back to work, I think we need to be present in this month. We know September is coming. But for a few more precious weeks we can relax and enjoy the warm weather, the slower pace, the opportunity to sit outside on a patio and the incredible bounty of the early harvest fruit and vegetables that fills the markets.
September isn’t here yet.