December is birthday month for my partner Sabrina and me. She was born on Christmas day; I was born the day after. I finally met someone with a worse day for a birthday!
We are seven years apart. We were talking today, and noted that adding up our years, we'll be 101 this year -- and then that led to the realization that, as old as we seem to be getting, our combined age is just two years older than my grandmother, Gladys.
Gladys is a remarkable woman. She turned 99 in August, and she's still going strong. On Mondays, she volunteers at the Welfare League thrift shop in Santa Rosa, sorting purses and accessories. She is the historian for the Santa Rosa Garden Club, and an active member in Native Daughters of the Golden West. Once a month, she puts together layettes for needy mothers, which are then distributed from Santa Rosa Memorial. And she's a seamstress. She is still taking in sewing and alteration jobs, working on the fancy new machine she purchased a few years back. She does not wear glasses or use a hearing aid.
Gladys lives in a senior apartment complex, so her meals are provided for her. But she still does all of her own laundry, and basically takes care of herself. She loves to gamble, and makes frequent trips to River Rock Casino, as well as her yearly trip to Reno with Sabrina on a senior over-night bus trip. She is always game for anything, whether it's trying Indian food, going to a concert, or heading out to the Hall of Flowers at the Sonoma County Fair. In short, she is an inspiration.
Sometimes I simply marvel at what the world must look like through her eyes. She was born in 1910. Her first car was a 1932 Ford with a rumble seat. She worked in San Francisco in an era when you put on a hat and gloves to go to the city. Her only daughter, Alice, spent several years of her childhood in an iron lung, because of polio. So many things are new and miraculous to her: computers, cell phones, CDs. So many things are challenging to the standards she was brought up, like me, for once example, her tattooed granddaughter with a shaved head. Yet she has adapted to everything, continuing to embrace the world every day with a freshness and young-at-heart attitude.
As my own age keeps creeping up, ever closer to 50, I have moments when I feel incredibly old. And then I think of my grandmother, who has lived more than twice as long as I have, and shows no signs yet of stopping. It puts things into perspective.