Sunday Column: I’ll be an old woman

I’ve been thinking about growing up lately, about my age and what it means to be an adult, to be a grown woman. To be established in my skin.

Maybe it’s the changing of a season, another summer coming upon us and the noticeable way my plans have changed from frolicking around the hills on the bare back of my sorrel horse to fulfilling obligations and responsibilities, meeting deadlines and penciling in time for the fun.

Maybe it’s the new silver scattered in my hairline, the silver I just sat in a chair for hours to have covered, to camouflage the passage of time as it’s made a splattering of an appearance for the world to see.

It could be those things and then it could be how it feels to watch my big sister raise an almost four-year old, my little sister finish her Master’s degree and my parents make plans for a new chapter in their lives.

Or it could be tax season and the oh, so grown-up responsibility and that cringeworthy check I’m plopping in the mail for the government today.

Maybe. Maybe it could be that.

When I was a little girl no one told be about these things. About what it’s like to wake up one day and realize that the growing up part isn’t like a music montage in a Disney movie.

No one told me the adult version of myself might forget about the ten-year old girl who used to wonder out loud when a person turns from a kid with energy to burn into a tired adult who would rather sit on the porch and drink coffee. No one told the ten-year-old version of myself that one day, I too would find myself a little too tired at the end of the day to build forts in the trees and stay out until dark or suppertime, whichever came first.

No one explained to me that one day that supper would be my responsibility and it’s importance would eclipse my waning desire to lean logs up against fallen trees.

I wouldn’t have believed them anyway.

But all that doesn’t matter now. I’ve made it this far and between the work and the worry I decided I needed to make some promises to myself.

About getting older.

About the kind of woman I want to be.

The kind who doesn’t bother with things like gray hair and doesn’t get worked up about mud on the floor.

The kind that saddles her own horse and breathes in the spring air, declaring the beauty of the season change while searching for crocuses.

The kind that doesn’t mind the passage of time. Who wears the lines on her face and her weathered hands with grace, a badge of a life well lived under the big blue sky of home.

Making these sort of declarations is freeing. To know how I want to turn out, to see myself there in my garden below the house, to know with as much certainty as that ten-year-old girl I used to be that I want to be the kind of old woman who doesn’t just live here on this place, but becomes a fixture, like the old fence posts holding stretched wire across the landscape–expected, subtle, weathered, wise.



Coming Home: When I grow up, I want to…
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

Catch me at the
North Dakota Bloggers & Writers Workshop
Monday, April 14, 2014
Fargo, ND

16 thoughts on “Sunday Column: I’ll be an old woman

  1. Absolutely beautiful post.

    And when my hair starts turning gray, which will hopefully be many, many years from now, I will wear it long and proud. Because gray hair means a life well lived.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jessie, It’s a truly hard thing for most women to face up to silver or white hair in our society. I last sat for a dye job on Demers Avenue in Grand Forks in my very early 30s. Decided then and there with dark brown hair I’d have to have dye jobs every few weeks to cover the roots…. and the time and money were just not worth it. A few years later I had an interesting Bride of Frankenstein flash of solid white from my forehead, and now mostly white in front with salt and pepper in back. It’s shiny, soft, bouncy, and feels great in the wind. Maybe it means most human males thought I was a grandmother by my 40s, but I just laugh and am grateful I got the thick salt and pepper hair from one side of my family and not the thinning mousey-colored hair from the other side. And, I never say, “No” when offered a senior discount even though I am not old enough to qualify!

  3. Ah…love this! Love everything in this post. I’m 40…and in that age where I’ve just stepped out of youth and the fact that I will age is settling in. I want to embrace aging, too. I want to wear the passage of time on my face with grace as well. The women who must alter their face to hide the passage of time…we still can tell! I want to be a woman that has confidence and has the lines that go with her age.

  4. thank you for this beautiful reminder “The kind who doesn’t bother with things like gray hair and doesn’t get worked up about mud on the floor.” …so not going to color those growing numbers of grey lines 🙂 will wear them proudly instead 🙂 Best of wishes to you from Brussels, Signe

  5. I ran into you in Fargo today, and you are a fur-piece away from being old! You are amazing. If it’s any consolation, I feel I deserve all the gray hairs and wrinkles. I earned them. I wear them with pride. Hopefully, someday, so will you.

  6. Just read an interesting article in Woman’s Weekly, a UK magazine, suggesting that when one gets older, the important thing is to keep trying new thiins and not get stuck in a rut. It’s great that you have the opportunity to ride your horse bare back and not be in a routine of supermarket shopping/work/chores. Whether dyeing one’s one’s hair pink or green to cover the silver..getting a tattoo…the important thing is to kick over the traces a bit and not sink into middle-aged respectability. I’ve also just read about the famous British choregrapher Gillian Lynne, who can still do the splits at 88, and at 57, married a guy 30 years her junior, who she is still with. I’d like to share her advice about how a woman should enter a room as well, but I’ll leave that to you to google, ha ha!

  7. How lovely to see the world thru your eyes. I too am trying to age gracefully. Not so sure that I’m doing it well, but I’m still trying. Your blogs make me want to smell new mown hay again, and feel hot summer sun on my skin while working in the bean fields or cornfields. (Of course, that sun wasn’t really my skin’s friend, but it felt good at the time.) Have a wonderful week and thank you for the boost.

  8. I’ve been worried a little lately because in between the lines of your words, I felt your struggle with change, with circumstances…with your world turning upside down and it seemed to weigh on you. You were coming to a defining moment in your life and those are never easy. However, I had confidence in your wisdom because I know your Aunt Kerry and know that wisdom runs in the family! Life is all about the choices we make and how we respond to what it lays in front of us. I was relieved and glad of the direction you chose. Your Uncle Chuck is also a great example of how we react to loss, hurt, pain and change. It wasn’t easy for him but he worked through it and arrived at many of the same conclusions you did. His future happiness is in his hands and is dependent on how he chooses to live life from now on. Like you, he made excellent choices!!!
    Perspective from others often gives us insight into our own lives. My perspective is that you have a very blessed life despite the challenges it brings and you really do know that. Sometimes that perspective gets entangled in the tougher moments and realizations we have but what I admire about your and your family is that you come out the other side even better. How great that is to never be the victim in your world but the hero!!! My hat (and sometimes my boots) are off to you!

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