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Today's Grandmothers: Daring Divas and Cool Chicks
by Ann Ipock

No doubt about it—more and more, we grandmothers aren't what we used to be. It's a fact that we maintain busier lifestyles, have healthier bodies and live longer lives than our grandmothers before us. We're as likely to be found in the gym as the grocery store, or the boardroom as the bedroom. Instead of sewing, many of us are surfing the web and surfing in the ocean. And we're often found building nest eggs as well as building houses. We're also running marathons and running for public office. It's a far cry from the 1950s and '60s when I think back to my grandmothers' lives.

I remember my Grandmother Julia Margaret—a Southern belle with a name to prove it—wearing her signature housedress, crocheting antimacassars (doilies for arm rests) and baby blankets and booties. By contrast, I wear my bathing suit to the beach and jump waves with my three-year old granddaughter, Madison, then build sandcastles. My grandmother wore her hair gray, short and permed. I wear my hair blonde, bobbed and bouncy. My grandmother loved to eat collards. I love to eat calamari. My grandmother once drove twelve miles to tour The Tryon Palace (the governor's mansion housed in New Bern, N.C.—the state's original capital, which later became Raleigh). I flew 1,200 miles to tour the Mayan ruins in Cancun. My grandmother smoked like a freight train. I walk and/or jog like a speeding train.

In contrast, I probably had more in common with Grandmother Pinky (nicknamed "Granny Go-Go"). We both loved beautiful clothes, red fingernails, taking trips and making people laugh. Granny also crocheted, but I think she loved cooking more. She also enjoyed canning and pickling, and she always set an inviting supper table. But as she got older and her arthritis got worse, she took on this certain waddling gait that proved to the world she was hurting. She let her hair go gray and she started wearing old lady shoes. Flip-flops are still my shoe of choice.

It's quite a contrast—their lives and mine. They were "old" when they were still young (my current age) and I'm—well, just starting life, it seems.

I reflected upon this a while back when Russell, my husband, announced that we were eligible for AARP membership. I scoffed at the idea. He couldn't understand my reluctance, but I insisted that we weren't in that age category and we weren't retired—the two requirements I thought AARP listed. Well, I was wrong on both accounts. He explained that you only have to be fifty years old (checkmark) and not retired (checkmark, again), and that the benefits include receiving a magazine and discounts for various products and services.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," I said, unconvinced. He went ahead and signed us both up. The day it arrived in the mail, Russell handed me my red and white card with the AARP emblem—with a wink in his eye. I sheepishly slipped it into a dresser drawer, rather than my wallet, refusing to consider myself a member of an "old folk's club." Well, hahaha! The joke was on me.

A few days later, the AARP Magazine arrived and I was flabbergasted! With cover models like Bill Cosby, Cybill Shepherd and Billy Crystal, the magazine both impressed and intrigued. I sat down and read it cover-to-cover that day. It turns out this slick, glossy publication is colossal, chic and cool! While it's not Cosmo, it does have some very interesting articles, with subjects including: How to avoid being ripped off with major purchases, solving health care issues, boosting your brain power, planning and attending reunions, building wealth for retirement, and yes – grandparent confessions.

This magazine not only has a sense of humor with its playful and light-hearted look at us aging baby boomers, but it is also realistic and encouraging with its enlightening interviews showing milestones and triumphs, which scream out to the reader, "You can do it too!"

And just as Russell says (don't you hate it when he's right?), now I find that being a member of AARP does indeed offer us some pretty significant discounts.

Just this week I planned a vacation at a beach resort. When I asked the reservationist if they accept AARP, she proudly said, "Yes, ma'am! You get a 10% discount."

See there—I saved a whopping $60 by using my card. I then went straight to that dresser drawer, and since I'm now a confirmed (and accepting) member, I slipped the card into my wallet.

I've heard folks say that age is only a number and I agree. In fact, I often say that I would not go back to being thirty—oh sure, maybe I'd like that body, but then again, my guess is that I'm healthier now. And I wouldn't trade the wisdom and knowledge I have gained over the years, even taking into consideration the School of Hard Knocks I've sometimes attended, for anything in the world. This Grammy Annie (Madison's name for me) is quite happy, thank you very much! And I love the ability of having so many choices at this stage in my life.

Whether traveling, accepting a new writing assignment, signing up for classes, or playing with my granddaughter, I'm looking forward to the next fifty one years!


Inattentional Blindness...
Leaving Plane Phobia Behind
Sushi in the South
Salute to SouthMouth
Aging mailbox...
Family follies...

Ann M. Ipock, author of Life Is Short, But It’s Wide (In The Southern State of Reality) can be reached at amipock@sc.rr.com.

Ann is a biweekly humor columnist with the Georgetown Times, South Carolina’s oldest newspaper.

Whether we are hearing about Ann’s unspeakable accident—the time she got the mayor’s mustache caught up in her dental hygiene polisher, her view on prissy Southern women who actually resort to toothpicks after meals—(those thick fake nails just can’t possibly remove spinach from one’s front teeth), or her frustration with sticking to a budget—the normally-$100 supper club night she hosted which turned into a $2400 remodeling job (blame it on the new carpet), we can only think of one thing to say, “Tell us more!”

Life Is Short, But It’s Wide (In the Southern State of Reality) is Ann’s second book of humor columns. Published by Carolina Avenue Press, the book was released in September, 2003. Her first book was entitled What Was It I Was Saying? She is a regular contributor to Sasee Magazine, and she also writes for Pee Dee Magazine, Strand, and Gateway Publications. She is active in community theatre, where her favorite role to date was that of Truvy Jones in Steel Magnolias. Her day job consists of being a home-based, self-employed medical transcriptionist for twelve years.

Visit Ann’s WEB SITE to read more of her delightful columns.


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