Oh, summer. Scorching sun and cool ice cream and bright green grass and…So. Much. Pollen. I think I’ve spent a small fortune on children’s allergy medications, and I’m starting to be on a first-name basis with the cashiers at Walgreens.
While waiting in line yesterday (for the second time that day, I might add), I noticed the elderly woman in front of me. Her stooped posture and snow-white hair reminded me of my maternal grandmother decades ago. As she chatted with the cashier, she leaned forward, her spine curved at an unnatural angle. I immediately wondered what daily mobility was like for her. What was her quality of life? Did she lament the loss of her youth and the things she could no longer do?
The woman collected her purchases and turned to leave. “Goodbye, everyone!” she said in a sunny voice. Then, smirking slightly, she uttered a few more words no one was expecting.
“I’m just a f@#$ing old lady, aren’t I?”
There was a split second of silence, then shocked laughter. Something about hearing this woman unapologetically drop an f-bomb in front of a group of strangers made me grin.
“I taught elementary school for so many years,” she explained gleefully. “And I was never allowed to swear.” We chatted briefly, and I learned she had taught first grade.
I had started out feeling sympathy for this woman. Naively, I assumed her life must be sad and dreary because of the inevitable physical deterioration that comes with age. But with that unabashed utterance of a taboo word, she proved me dead wrong. Clearly, there was plenty to relish about her station in life — namely, the delicious freedom to not give a flip what others think. It’s a lesson I’m still struggling to learn at the tender age of 40.
So cheers to my memorable Walgreens checkout companion. May her example inspire me to think more about new possibilities that were previously out of reach.
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