Sweet Warrior Princess:
Not too long ago, I was sitting on the bed with my mom and grandma – your great grandma – talking about how quickly time flies. “I still feel like I’m 16,” I said.
“Me too!” said your grandma.
“Me too!” said your great grandma.
There are two funny things about time flying:
1. In spite of wisdom, experience, and maturity, you stay young inside.
2. Age is a sliding scale. No matter where you are on the continuum, you’ll perceive others’ age differently and you are the constant.
When you’re a kid, you can’t wait to be a cool16-year-old, and you think your parents are really old. When you’re 16, you’re beginning to realize your parents are normal people and their age seams reasonable, but your grandparents seem ancient. When you’re well into adulthood, your parents and your grandparents, now much older than they once were, seem young to you, and all the while you continue to feel like a kid. But despite the agility of your mind, your body may take a different path.
You earn the lines on your face, and the way you live affects your body to a large degree, but some things were decided for you long before you were born. For better or worse, sweet girl, our ancestral history lives on in our bodies: our strong legs, curvy mouths, dark eyes, and fire in our hearts, but also in hereditary challenges over which we have no control. With time, I hope that you, as I have, learn to embrace the good and the bad and appreciate the genes of which you’re already a shining reflection. When I look in the mirror, I see the broad, sincere smile of my great uncle, and I hope that when you look in the mirror, the imperfectly beautiful face looking back at you brings you warm memories and pride in carrying on the family legacy.
My attitude stays perpetually suspended in youth, but sometimes my body just says no. Compression stockings, a night guard for teeth, wrist braces, silver strands of hair, the dreaded comfy shoes – my accessories betray my physical age. I am held upright like a church spire rising in the sky thanks to the support of its flying buttresses. Yep, your mom is old. And she says things like buttress. Sorry.
I sometimes say that getting old sucks, and this is the tip of the iceberg, but truth is, it’s an honor that not everyone gets. So, my doll, I’ll keep going until my body and the good Lord tell me to stop. I will push through any discomfort if it means just an extra minute of fun for you. I’ll do my best not to let the old lady aches and pains poop the party.
You know, when I was a kid, my mom, your granny, got horrible migraines for days at a time. She would have to lay down in the dark, waiting for the pain to pass. Man, it was awful for me. I’d go and tell her I wanted to play, I wanted to eat, that she was done relaxing… Time to get up. Sometimes it would work but more often I’d sulk away defeated. Life was boring when mom was “relaxing.” I was regrettably unsympathetic and impatient.
Now, I find myself in my mom’s position, trying to muster the life force to get up and play. To pretend I’m a pony. To settle arguments between two princesses. To swing you around and carry you around on my back. To unbox that puzzle with a million pieces even though I know you’ll lose interest three minutes later.
I will rally and I will rise. For you, anything.
Many years ago, though it seems like just yesterday, I could pop up from laying down to standing up without creaking, groaning, or winding up. Now it’s not quite as easy, but I love watching you do it. And I’m beginning to understand those old people before me that had to strategize the move from sitting to standing. I hope that you will be patient with me – more patient than I ever was – because it may take my body longer than my impatient young mind would like. I will always stand for you…it just may require some strategy.
Slowly but surely yours,