A Woman of a Certain Age.

“A woman of a certain age.”
When we were kids, that moniker was meant to carry its own mystique. To many, the indication was “too old for the market, but trying to appear otherwise”. More discreetly, it might have meant too old for just about anything.
. . . .
Used to be, when women passed the mid-fifty mark, social options, let alone professional, were pretty much set in stone; if you hadn’t established progeny, you would die alone.
But, first, you’d live out your final couple decades in a crumbling household that generated the strange scent of old mustard and stale onion soup, the place where your remote family members brought their reluctant children for that bi-yearly meal on their way someplace far more colorful and inviting. You were the old, faded aunt, who kept embroidered handkerchiefs to give as gifts, you and only you realizing their value, your whole body quietly collapsing as you watched your spoiled niece’s facial muscles cave with disappointment at the sight of them in that especially sacrificed gift box.
 . . . .
You enjoyed your habits, for the most part, until they met the glare of the actual outside world, where they appeared to have no value to anybody. You read the New Yorker, but nobody knew you read it, least of all the people whose lives were featured therein; while you may have developed an opinion or two, there were never long enough intervals in any conversation at the bi-yearly dinner table for you to express them and, by the next summer, they were already outdated.
. . . .
The length of your days were measured by the weather and the seasons. You might have had a youth, but yours was a story nobody wanted to hear because of the awkward moments of absent connection to anything externally relevant. You thought about the value of life pretty much every day, but could never put your finger on any part of it, so you spent most of your energy watering the African violets and keeping things in their proper place in case a stranger were to drop by unannounced.
. . . . .
There were mice in your house, but you had long since given up trying to conquer them. After all, they had established many generations of ownership within the walls, a sort of dynasty, and the less said about them the better lest they make their presence known in the more proper places during dinner.
. . . . .
You made your appearance monthly, at the bank teller’s window and in the grocery store line, and perhaps on most Sundays at church, for whatever reason had been that of your family background. Clear dry cleaner bags covered most of the clothing in your closets, yet the singular ease with which you drip-dried your stockings along the main towel bar was the private joy of your Saturday night. Your rain bonnet had its own hook, and your hairnets their own drawer. The plastic loop that closed the button on your transparent overshoes had turned to bone, and the only item in the whole house that ever disrupted the picture was your father’s old, wood-handled umbrella after a long thunderstorm.
. . . . .

The day you died, the cat two doors down gave birth to its kittens on the neighbor’s front porch and a car accident around the corner’d made the evening news when one of the vehicles swerved, knocking down the Yield sign. It took several long-distance phone conversations for your brother’s family to decide whether to come early and wrap everything up in two days, or freeze the body so the relatives could get in an afternoon of special-purchase sale shopping at the mall. And, heralding your departure by spontaneously giving out, your refrigerator presented the problem of who would get the jellies and jams to take home in the car. But, in the end, it wasn’t a bad day to leave, quietly, as you had hoped; your life, after all, was never supposed to mean anything to anybody, really, and you had managed that just as a woman should.


. . . . .

© Ruth A. Scanzillo 10/23/14

all rights reserved. Thanks.

6 thoughts on “A Woman of a Certain Age.

  1. Thank you for reading this post, Ankit. I think it was the first essay I ever entered onto the blog and, while the topic is not that popular, I feel that there are still many females who live out their lives like this – all over the world.


      1. How odd. I moved this old post (Nov 2014!) out of Private status, and it must have popped up as a new post. Yes? My brother wanted all the posts about our Dad, and it turned out to be a total of about 12! So, I included this one, as well, and now I have to assume that all those reverted to Public status have popped as new. How many appeared, OF? Thnx!


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