I had always happily envisioned myself in 50 years or so becoming a delightfully crabby old lady, hitting people with my cane and making inappropriate and salty comments at whomever I pleased, much to the horror of my children and the awe of my grandchildren. I wanted to be known as a “tough old bird.” I wanted people to mutter “old bat” as I passed. I wanted Old Lady Notoriety. Honestly, I was looking forward to it.
However, after a couple recent events, to my mild discomfort and disappointment, I’m rethinking this plan. The second time was today at the grocery store where I was waiting patiently to get in line and some lady growled at me, “You gotta choose ONE!” in that crotchety, yet smug voice that knows that you can’t say anything about her being rude because it would be rude (Old Lady Logic).
But what kicked it off was this. Last night I was at a nearly empty restaurant with some friends and somehow the conversation drifted to death. I don’t even know how we got there, but it doesn’t matter. We pretty much spent the remainder of the meal swapping funny and disconcerting death stories. As I was rounding the bend on a particularly farcical tale, an elderly woman (with a cane, I might add) hobbled past us and interrupted me to say, “It’s funny how you find humor in death.”
Not understanding her meaning (and, with hubris, thinking she was somehow complimenting us), I responded with a disarming smile, “You have to.”
And she replied with the heaviness of age and disapproval, “Not that way.” A phrase that she repeated a few more times as she made her way out of the restaurant.
When my face stopped burning, I muttered under my breath, “Must have hit too close to home,” which, upon reflection, was an uncharitable thing to say, but, hey, she really ruined my flow.
So this got me thinking — were we being disrespectful? Or, more to the point, were we being too LOUDLY disrespectful? And how long was she listening? Because we covered a lot of ground in an hour. My funeral stories all stem from the only funeral that I have ever experienced, that of my grandmother Hilda Mae. Although I didn’t know my grandmother very well as an adult, she bore nine children, so I’d like to think that she had some sense of humor. And I wasn’t making fun of HER. . . just a few incidents surrounding her death and funeral.
Aw hell, I’ll just tell you.