For as long as I can remember, I have an image in my head. This image is a mix of real people I have known over the years, characters who struck a chord in me, a few philosophical discussions, and, yes, some stereotypes.
I refer to her as the ‘old woman,’ partly because the majority of the people (real and fictional) who went into making her are/were women. Partly because for most of my life I thought I was a woman.
She is who I want to be when I ‘grow up.’
I don’t think I can encompass an idea I’ve built up over a lifetime in a single post, but I can try to hit the highlights.
The Old Woman
The first thing that would strike most people about her is her self assurance. She wears her grey hairs as the badge of life and experience they are. She knows who and what she is and is comfortable with that knowledge.
Her home is a sanctuary she has built, both for herself and others. It rings with music, is frequently filled with the smells of fresh baking, has cozy nooks for someone who needs some space to curl up with one of the many books (bookcases in every room). Outside are flower and herb and vegetable gardens ringing the house.
Her favorite thing is to have her home filled with the sounds of family and friends, but she can be content in herself when everyone is out or gone home. She isn’t very active in the local community, being content to save most physical interaction for family and friends. But she has wide-ranging correspondence with people from all over the world. And without ever leaving her locality she is able to open her young family member’s eyes to some of the true scope of the world around them.
She is one of the center-poles of her family. Organizing family events, ensuring that everyone is up-to-date on the latest changes, and folks who need help are connected with folks who can help. ONE of the center poles because she encouraged and helped others take on these roles also. She knows that if she is the only one the family will lose coherence when she needs to step down from this role.
After putting a great deal of thought into it, I do think this is someone I can become, or come close to. There is nothing in this characterization that conflicts with who I am. Not like if I, say, wanted to become a world-renowned speaker or a local community leader *shudder*. It embraces things which have always been core to me–family, connecting with and learning from people, taking care of folks I love, music, being a home-body, not liking in-person socializing. But it also challenges me to grow, not into something different, but into a more capable, confident, comfortable version of who I am now.
Since I generally like who I am now, but want to be MORE than I am now, I think that’s a good thing.
A VERY Different Kind of Family