My sister is five foot two with eyes of blue and the jolliest person you could ever meet. On her seventieth birthday she threw herself one large, loud and fun party. People wanted to attend, they asked for invitations months in advance. She is fun to be with and makes a person feel special and good about themself. But some people just don’t get it. On a recent Mother’s Day my sister was waiting in line outside of a local restaurant when she was overjoyed by a surprise visit from her son. Standing nearby a middle-aged woman stuck her fingers in her ears as the joyful sound assailed her. My Sis turned and apologized to her stating she had always been a happy, boisterous person and at this stage of her life had no plans to change. I must admit there have been times I wished she wasn’t so exuberant but those occasions have ended up containing some of my fondest memories.
Her laughter and sunny disposition are gifts she has given me over these many years. Thinking of her and her life led me to wonder about women and their laughter. Since I am the quieter sister I have been assigned the role of watcher. The following are things I have observed. Older women get together and laugh. These same women have been referred to as “old cackling hens”. The people who say this don’t understand how women who have lived through difficult times and who are no longer, quote, “desirable” can enjoy life. I have concluded that most women who reach a “certain age” have experienced the vicissitudes of life. They have had jobs, lost jobs and worked hard. They have felt the deep emotions of the births and deaths of loved ones. They managed divorces, betrayals, love affairs, sickness, children in trouble and after all this they still find fun in life.
When these women get together there is usually someone in the group with a ready smile and a joke or anecdote about their family or grandchildren. I like the one about a little granddaughter who at age four decided to tell her Nana about God. They were in a swimming pool and as the child’s eyes scanned the area she explained that God created the sky, the grass, the trees and water and TOWELS. How can you not smile or laugh at that?
So this I believe, I believe that when young people see old women laughing they get a sense of hope. A hope that they too will age and continue to enjoy life. There is a recognition that age does not mean the end of joy.
So the next time you see a group of older women enjoying a laugh recognize that they are giving you the gifts of hope and joy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.