It’s always been easy for me to get on an easy footing with older women; mothers and grandmothers of friends. My cousin’s mother-in-law comes to mind. I’d seen her over the years at annual family gatherings, but I never approached her because she had seemed aloof, stern almost.
But when she and I briefly became neighbours in the same apartment building, we had a few chats, and I noticed her kind eyes and liked her dry humour. She moved away shortly after our chats began, but I enjoy talking to her still at the odd family gathering of relatives from my mother’s side.
Recently, my mother had her 70th birthday party. Quite a few people there were in their 70s, and so I made a friend that evening who came from a generation of women who once wore cheongsams to parties, knew the foxtrot as a dance and not as a comic strip, and was capable of making the bed without the use of fitted sheets.
I come from a generation of women who wore Japanese-inspired punk to parties, grew up with colour television, and welcomed the arrival of Macintosh computers at the workplace.
She told interesting stories about her life as a young mum in the UK more than 40 years ago, her experiences in Singapore teaching English to Japanese school children for 20 years, and assorted details of a life blessed with a loving family. Oh, we talked about the kinds of things women like to talk about, and when I spoke in turn, she nodded and laughed in all the right places.
Connections like that occur, a streak of silver lightning on a midsummer’s night, out of the blue across cultures and generations, among random people in the most random of events like birthday parties. Some blossom into friendships the moment you say to yourself, “Wait a minute! I’m not the only one who thinks like this.” (I’m paraphrasing CS Lewis.)
Personality doesn’t fade with the years, but is augmented by experiences and life’s subtle shaping of identity and character. Just because someone is decades older doesn’t mean she can’t share a common vocabulary or look at people and the world through similarly-tinted (designer) lenses.
I wish I’d met her earlier. Way earlier.
More than once, I tell myself, age is just a number.
[15:44] What’s your take on connections? Which connections have blessed you and enriched your own life? Do leave a note about these wonderful gifts!