|Winterberry by Pfaltzgraff|
Inexplicably, I've found myself around older ladies much of my life. I've had friends close to my age but also have formed friendships with many women far older than I. Thinking about it, I've learned so much from them. Here are just a few nuggets I recall:
From my mother (also my friend), among other things, I learned to control myself and not lick my fingers to open plastic bags in the produce department in a grocery store. I was with her one time when a helpful stranger suggested my mother lick her fingers to open a bag she was struggling with, and I could see my mother shudder at the thought. She persevered and prevailed.
From a lady I worked with over thirty years ago, who at that time was the age I am now, I learned that I didn't need to use "minced oaths" in my conversation. She never said: oh my gosh; good grief; cheez; golly darn; cheese and crackers; holy smoke and so on. While she listened, she'd simply say "Oh?" or "Well" (Weeelllll). I have to admit I don't have this down pat yet, but I've made good progress. Due to her influence and how nice she always looked, I also learned that my favorite style of apparel is modest and classic.
From my very elderly neighbor I've learned much on frugality and commonsense living (although the period during which I washed my plastic baggies didn't last all that long!). She is friendly, feisty, and fearless all rolled up into one little 5' gal. In the early years of our acquaintance I resented her input; now I consult her.
From my childhood babysitter, I learned one should push back her cuticles regularly. I'm not sure when my mother would have let me in on this, but I was fascinated when my grandmotherly babysitter sat me on her lap when I was just a little girl, and slowly and methodically pushed down my cuticles.
From another co-worker fifty years older than I at the time (clothing stores were a mecca for older employees then, just as in BBC's Are You Being Served), I learned how to carefully take the thread out from the hem on a pair of slacks, wrapping it around a little piece of cardboard, and then use the same thread to rehem after pinning them.
From my grandmother I learned that "good furniture" had dovetailed joints in the drawers. I also learned that Michigan mints and sesame sticks were right tasty (but not together, blech). (That was back when you could find them and they were excellent quality.) When I was young I attempted to roll up the wrapper from a hard candy like she did, but never succeeded. She could roll them up so very tightly, diagonally from corner to corner. (I think I probably inherited my ample feet from her and possibly my ample nose.) :0)
Finally, my dearest friend was the quintessential example of the axiom: If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all. Still working on that one, too.
Through the years the older women in my life have been such splendid mentors, sharing strong work ethics, perseverance, patience, humor, efficient housekeeping skills, self-control, responsibility, loyalty ... and of course, there's so much more. God Bless Them All.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.