The New Wrinkle I Just Discovered In My 'Aging Gracefully' Plan

The Graduate and the author, flanked by both Southern Belle Grandmothers

As anyone might imagine, the topic of "aging gracefully" and general overall "lucidity" has been on the table ever since my mother and my husband's mother spent a few days with us attending graduation festivities last week. Right before we took my mother-in-law to the airport to catch her flight back to New Orleans, we stopped for a light lunch, which was really just an excuse to soak up her wisdom for a few more minutes, chatting about life and stuff. That's when his mom tossed out this precious gem...

"Well, all I can say is...Y'all will know when I am LOSING IT. Y'all will be able to tell if I ever even walk outside or, Heaven Forbid, go anywhere without my makeup.


I met my husband's mother when I was just 17. And even back then, as a know-nothing young girl, I pegged her immediately as the true blue, dyed-in-the-wool Southern Belle that she is. One look and you can tell she has some exceptionally high standards with respect to appearances, but still, her comment gave me considerable pause. (The fork in mid-air, I-even-stopped-eating-for-a-second kind of pause.) I looked at my husband in mock concern...

"That may be helpful for gauging Mimi's current mental state, but I run all over town without an ounce of makeup on, so we can't rely on that as an indication of when I am LOSING IT."

"That's the God's Honest," he agreed. "Or if you start ramming our cars into one another on our driveway, no one will be worried. We will just know that's the kind of thing you've always done."

Touché! I had that coming!

A little caught up in the moment, I couldn't resist adding, "If I'm an old lady that turns on the faucet and then forgets to turn it off and floods the entire Senior Center, you won't be panic-stricken, like 'Oh My God, she is losing it!' You'll be all calm like, 'That's just her way!'"

Wanting a piece of the action, my mother-in-law pointed out, "And, if you completely fall off the face of the Earth and don't answer anyone's phone calls or return their texts, no one will think a thing of it!" She offered that up in that sort've sympathetic 'Bless Your Heart' style only a truly Southern mother-in-law can pull off with charm and ease.

Undaunted, my hubby pressed on, "Or even if I found your car keys in the freezer or fact-checked your embellished statistics and stories, I wouldn't blink twice!"

"Or if you threw away actual money!"

I get it. I get it. I get it.

He's just all bent out of shape because one of the first payments I've ever received for "published writing" came in the mail the other day and he brought it straight to me, bubbling over with the joy and relief of a man who just realized he might actually be in a "duel-income relationship" for the first time in 33 years of marriage. I was standing in my closet at the time he ceremonially handed the check to me. We haven't seen it since, but I'm sure it's in that closet somewhere. Besides, it still counts as "getting paid to write" regardless of whether or not you cash the check.

That's really beside the point right now. I've got bigger fish to fry. With no distinct or discernible signs of my own mental impoverishment, my loved ones will be completely clueless. If I start to unravel, how will they be alerted to the utter gravity of my condition in order to render aid? It appears as though I've got to pull my act together a bit.

I'm turning over the proverbial new leaf. I'll have to tone it down and rein it in a bit from here on out. I'll start by tearing a page out of Mimi's book and splash a little more make-up on consistently every day, for that dewy-fresh "I've totally got my shit together" look!

The words "age defying makeup" just took on a whole new meaning for me.

Bless My heart.

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