I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth.-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Mona's Musings

January 3rd, 2010

Old Ladies

At ninety-four, the only real color left is in her eyes. But if the pasty skin bleached by too much sun and too much rain is the backdrop, the contrast only emphasizes the blue. Like azure gauze, her eyes barely veil the fabric of her soul: frayed cotton aprons, fleecy babies, and denim children playing under calico on the clothesline; the chiffon of romance and the crepe of special days; linen Sundays and nights of flannel and silk. Altogether she is a blend of such real color and authentic texture, that beside her the young appear drab and the unfeminine threadbare.

Muse with me: How have the lives of older women affected you? Do you ever imagine what you will be like as a very old woman?

What did you think of this musing?

Join the discussion!


  1. David says:

    I am a home teacher to an 85-year-old that more than resembles this verbal portrait. She is frail, yet feisty. The graceful crumbling of her mortal coil belies the quickness of her intellect. She recalls the past with spirit and exactness, yet can’t recall from visit to visit which stories have already been told and which are new to her audience, yet each telling is still enthralling, just as watching a classic film never gets old.

    The dedication of her son, who acts as her full-time home care speaks of the love-bond earned by this mother by her own. She spends her twilight home-bound years researching her ancestors and submitting their names for saving ordinances by proxies in LDS temples. Several of her children have preceeded her through the veil as well. Their lives are living fulfillment of the “hearts of the children being turned to their fathers.”

    Her life and words are a constant inspiration to me and all that as so fortunate to visit with her.

  2. Heidi says:

    Older women have always been examples to me. I’ve loved those from my family, and I’ve respected–as they all deserve–the ones I’ve met at church. Seeing them, I often wonder what age will be like for me. I sometimes joke about how I’ve been falling apart since the day I was born, but the health issues I face as only a very young woman make me worry how old age might be. On bad days, I fear I’ll never reach old age. So I guess what I learn the most from these women is how I want to be like them now: where most of them are content with what their lives have been and face their futures–no matter how long or short to come–with peace and without fear.

    • mona says:

      Heidi, a lovely old man spoke in church Sunday and I was enraptured….he was grand…the epitome of a person who had lived life so well and understood his role now as exemplar and teacher. His challenges are real but they are born of natural causes, not the result of poor choices. That’s the peace I want as an old woman.

  3. Sara Lyn says:

    From our beginning, Morgan and I have admired older couples climbing hills to the temple. We talk about how we want to totter up to the temple, leaning on each other as we have seen many couples do. There are a number of old people in my life and I wonder how hard it must be to grow old and not feel like people see you.

    • mona says:

      Sara Lyn, I think about that also. To have lived a full life and to have no one care about your story…how strange to diminish while young people “increase” — yet it seems the way of life…do you think we’re humbled before passing into the next life or something……hmmmmm….

  4. Bonnie Holt says:

    Again Mona, such beautiful imagery! I saw these things in an “old rose” from my garden last summer! I have always loved the beautiful “old” faces of temple workers—they have such wisdom and depth! Funny—even as a child, I was never afraid to grow old. Even then, I thought women who tried to appear younger by dying their hair, or dressing like teeny boppers only managed to look garish! When I tell my daughters I want to grow old gracefully, they moan! But I do!


    • mona says:

      Amen Amen Amen. I’ve commissioned my teenage nieces to be frank with me if I ever start wearing too much or too bright colored make-up. And of course, my head is streaked with natural silver. Toss the bottle!

  5. Amanda says:

    This is becoming a favorite subject of mine, especially since I’ve started working in a Senior Living Community. I have had many sweet and tender learning experiences with the older ladies I serve each day of work. They have an abundance of wisdom they pour out to me with all their words. I long to soak up every last drop and learn from them. The other day, my friend and I were talking about the symbolism of white hair and how growing old is a wonderful gift from God. As much as I love my red hair, I can’t wait to be a white-haired grandma!

    • mona says:

      Amanda darling! Thank you for responding to “Old Ladies”! I hadn’t thought of your perspective because of your job. VERY touching darling. I love you!
      Mama Z

  6. carole says:

    I don’t have to imagine what I’ll look like at 90, I’m the spitting image of my grandma Shipley who was 93 when she died. I lived with her for 10 years; from age 12-22 and our dispositions are even the same. She attended the temple every Thursday, volunteered at the Veterans Hospital every Wed for 8 hours. She was faithful in the gospel, did her visiting teaching EVERY month…a wonderful example to me.

    • mona says:

      Carole, So. Now we know where so much of incredible YOU comes from. That’s the way LeOra was for me. It’s a lucky woman to have such a model.

  7. Bekah says:

    I often feel more connected to the “old ladies” in my ward than I do to the younger ones. They are so affirming of anything I do, so encouraging. I dropped in on one of my favorites a few weeks back with just my baby in tow, and left feeling so refreshed, as if I had a drink of cool water that was long overdue. Maybe it was her ability to be still, in contrast with my almost complete inability to be still. I haven’t thought much of myself as an old lady, but I definitely don’t worry about it either.

    • mona says:

      Oh Bekah! I LOVE your observation about “stillness”. Young women can so benefit by the company of older, even senior, women who reflect a life endured, even well lived.

  8. Tessie says:

    I remember when I was first married and later had a newborn baby and moved into a new ward…the Sunday School teacher was SO OLD… then I went to RS and the same thing…I just wanted to go back to my old ward…but luckly I stayed and learned these ladies were not old in their hearts and I soon learned to love and appreciate them and was saddened that so quickly they left this world- today I tearfully look back at these special ladies and am thankful for the things they taught me. Wishing I had been around longer to learn more. But learning a very valuable lesson about books and covers the same as for spirits and skins…

    Mona- thank you so much for taking the time to share your heart and soul with all for us…I love to hear the Muse musing .

    • mona says:

      Tessie, what a sweet perspective…”spirits and skins”…I’m so thankful to have learned this same regard for those with more years than I when I was a young wife…it’s been invaluable as you say.

  9. So beautifully written and described. I am in the rare situation of having all of my grandparents, on both sides still living. I love to be able to call them up and hear their sweet voices, the way my grandma Kohler so lovingly says “Heidi Dawn” each time she sees me, her rose petal soft skin that brushes against me as I bend down to give her a hug.

    My cool cat grandpa Kohler, who has an indescribable connection to his great grandson. It’s as if he’s waking up from a sleep as I watch him play with my toddler.

    Grandma Cannon. My little pixie grandma who is always so eager and interested in everything happening in my life.

    And my beloved grandpa Cannon who lovingly calls me “Heidibabe” He is my Merlin, and I am his Arthur. How very blessed I am. I never want them to go away.

    • mona says:

      Soooooooooooo sweet. How lucky you are. I did not have 4 grandparents to know and love – just one really – and I saw her rarely – even so, she called me “baby” all my life.

Leave a Reply to Bonnie Holt

Hide responses