Guest blogger Granny Gone Rad: A comment from my granddaughter made me give a damn about my appearance again.
"Grandma, did you ever look nice?"
That was the question posed by my then-six-year old granddaughter whose other grandma is petite with thick, long blonde hair and who can dance better than Britney Spears. "Yes", I answered, but the question stuck in my craw like a sharp fishbone. Yes, people used to say I was beautiful, but that was a very long time ago.
The question forced a trip to the full-length mirror to assess the problem, and the news wasn't good. I was swelling out of my size 14s, my hair was limp and hadn't seen a hairdresser in many moons, my nails were chewed down, and my toenails looked like tiny prehistoric monsters. The kid had a point.
So after my husband had a heart attack, I went on his heart-healthy diet and dropped 10 pounds in a month. Then I started walking down the street to church five days a week and lost another 15 pounds. What amazed me was that it was so easy to do. Then I turned into a grazer rather than sitting down to big meals. When I felt hungry, I'd grab a yogurt just to calm the hunger pangs. It got so that I plated out small portions because I knew I didn't need large ones, no matter how tempting the food. That was a great feeling, and I'm now in my loosely-fitting size 12s and heading to size 10 which I haven't seen since I was 28. I'm now 61.
It galls me to hear young people call seniors blue-hairs or Q-tips. I don't want that for myself. I don't want tight perms and I don't want to end up smelling like mothballs. I don't want my house to reflect who I was but who I am. I want to stay current and active. And I want my granddaughter to say I look nice now. So on to hair and makeup.
My idea of a haircut is to grab a hank and cut it off with my sewing scissors. Frankly, I'm not going to change that because when I go to a young hairdresser, I come out with a utilitarian haircut that's either butch or curled unfetchingly around my face. Young hairdressers, especially in small towns like mine, think you're all washed up anyway so why waste their limited skills on you. I've worn a ponytail practically since birth and I'm sticking with it, but with modifications like good conditioner . Fortunately, I have thick, still-shiny hair so I don't look like an old greasy hippie. I pulled out an ancient tub of exfoliant, scrubbed my skin with it followed by a chaser of Oil of Olay and that did wonders. I soaked my old toes in soapy water, trimmed them nicely with my hair scissors, and painted my toenails an astonishing shade of orange.
The work I do as an editor and book critic is solitary. I hardly ever leave my home office ... but for those times when I'm seeing my grandchildren, I want them to see that Grandma is a sleek racehorse heading boldly to the finish line and not a tired old nag just limping along until she drops.