Friday, 28 November 2008

To Be Delightful

I think we have a lot to learn from the old girls. I don't mean the quite old girls, like myself, I mean the really old girls - i.e., you're barely in this club aged 80, sister!

I've been thinking about them ever since I met my friend Margaret's new step-girlfriend. That's what she calls her, because she is the new girlfriend of her late mother's boyfriend....Still with me? To explain: Margaret's late mother had a boyfriend, Peter. Sadly, Margaret's mother died a couple of years ago and Peter now has a new babe, the Step-Girlfriend. And as he had become a big part of my friend's family when he was dating their mother, Pete's new octogenarian arm candy has been enthusiastically welcomed, too, although she is no relation by either blood or marriage. But, my goodness, she is fabulous!

It's not just the size-8 figure, the defined waist, or the way she walks as though she were about to break into a quickstep at any moment. It's not even her perfectly kept nails or her beautifully set silver-white hair. No, that's all good but it's not the heart of it.

Of course, her clothes help. She's always immaculate in a cashmere twin-set and pearls for casual day wear, a suit for smart days and a selection of lovely, below-the-knee, waisted dresses for dinner or cocktails. I'm told that it's proper long gowns if there's a chance of a dance at an evening event. She never wears trousers, and always wears heels. But while she's very well turned out, there's more to her appeal than grooming.

The really amazing thing is that the Step-Girlfriend is not the only one I know of this marvellous breed. Two more immediately spring to mind, both mothers of good friends, in their 90's and a delight to behold and spend time with. And that, I think, is the crux of the charm of these golden girls.

They aim, at all times, to be delightful.

They always look interested in what you're saying, even if you rather suspect they can't quite hear you.

I do understand that this could be perceived as a hangover from the 1950's man-pleasing mode, when women were expected to adopt a perfect-wife persona, hiding their real needs and feelings under a wipe-clean, easy-care veneer of feminine charm. That would be terribly depressing, and I really don't think it is what I am seeing in these luminous ladies.

Rather it is a refined form of self-discipline, always to put on a delighted and delightful demeanour, whatever you're really going through inside, as a courtesy to others.

In our age of let-it-all-hang-out, where people exert no self-control when it comes to venting about whatever is getting them down at any given moment - regardless of the effect their mood may have on others - it really is a pleasant change.

And I don't excuse myself from that criticism. I'm a shocker for letting whatever I'm feeling - be it frustration with a slow supermarket queue, or a genuine concern - play across my face like a Reuters screen. Not nice.

So, while I'm all in favour of being real about my feelings in the appropriate context, I think there's a lot to be learned from these shining members of an older generation.

I would very much like to learn how to be delightful!

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, 2007 - Two very delightful sculptures.

My 86 year old mother - Beryl, myself and my 96 year old Aunt Mary. Two very delightful women.


Ron said...

When I was a lad, my father was pastor of a church. There were several older persons in the church, and I would spend time talking with them. As I grew, I continued my cummunication with tose significantly older than me. I learned so many things form these conversations.

As it became harder to remember the details of life, only the strongest meories remained. They didnt talk about the cars they drove, or the houses they owned.
They talked about family. They talked about friendships. They talked about their work. It all boiled down to the most important things to them.

Arguments were forgotten. Births were remembered. Disagreements drifted away. Loves were recalled. Possessions faded. Relationships remained. What was gained dropped from view. What was contributed held on.

Years after I am gone, no one will remember the cars I drove or the houses I owned. What will live on will be the loves I created; the family I influenced; and the friends I made.

Ah, the lessons I learned for those old folks.

Octamom said...

I too have been so blessed to have these kind of amazing women in my life. M's Grammy passed away last February at the age of 96. The hair was always done, the wardrobe always darling and immaculate, the manicure and pedicure in place. My precious 90 year-old grandmother is the same way. And I love how both this women always blend in a side charm of sass.

Love this post, Sweet Peg!


McMGrad89 said...

I think women like this still exist even in modern times...Those who remember to use their quiet voices and remember birthdays. I, on the other hand, am not one of those ladies. I wear my heart on my sleeve, forget to make my bed and let my lipstick wear off, though I always have one in my purse...and always have a purse, not that I could find anything in it. I have decided there are other ways to show people you care, like smiling at someone who is apparently having a bad day, calling people by their names and remembering what kind of chocolate they like.

Fly Girl said...

When I began dating my husband, I had the pleasure of meeting his grandmother who was in her 80s then. She was wonderful to talk to... always interested in my life and eager to share some of the stories of her early years. She was still raking pinestraw off the driveway in her 90s before she passed away.

My mother-in-law is now 82, and she fits in perfectly with the charming ladies you describe. I could definitely take fashion tips from her... She always looks like she stepped out of the pages of a magazine! And, you're right, like your ladies, she's always interested in talking and rarely ever complains about a thing! They are members of "the greatest generation." You may have prompted my next post! I may have to share a little about my wonderful mother-in-law with all of you! (In fact, I may have to copy some of this back to my place!).

Thanks for putting a smile on my face. I enjoyed my visit!


Jan said...

I love the picture of you with your Mother and Aunt. Three delightful women!

JenX67 said...

Gosh, they sound so wonderful. I want her for a step girlfriend. You did almost lose me with that, but of course, pulled through with eloquence and kept me hanging on for more. Geez - you're such a great thinker, Peggy. I want to be delightful, too. And, when other people aren't delightful - especially on holidays like Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, I get really bummed out and cry. Today, I had this episode. My son said to me - he is THREE - "Pray the Lord, mommy. God is not sad." I need to write that on my blog I guess.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this essay today and the Cole Porter playing in the background was just right! It gave me the feeling that there IS something positive to look forward to in old age.....I hope I can be like the 'step-girlfriend' if I get that far!

avtcoach said...

See, (read this afte reading my email) I knew I was missing somthing! What a delightful post to make me smile and ready for my week. I agree, this is exactly the energy I want at that age. Looks like you have some great genes and will be blogging for a long while! That picture is marvelous!!
Also, how great that your friend has embraced the step-girlfriend! My huband's father married pretty quickly after his mom's death and it was hurtful at first but has turned out to be a blessing for him and for us.
Loved seeing your smiling face in this post! Have a great week!

Caroline said...

You have describe my grandmother to a tee...God bless her! She was born and raised in England and one could never be too dressed up, polite to formal. You never "wore" your emotions and smiled for everyone. She was a beautiful and gracious soul. I don't think I could pull it off... This post brought me back...thank you!