North Carolina

Time Ain’t No Beauty Specialist

This piece was submitted by guest blogger Ginny Callaway. Send us your story or short article and we’ll contact you if it works as a guest blog. Click here to share.

105 year old Aunt Zipora Rice from Sodom, North Carolina once said, “Time might be a great healer, but it ain’t no beauty specialist.”

That woman knew what she was talking about. As I march closer to the next era after our Fabulous 60s, that simple statement is proving truer by the minute.

Do you remember how we decorated for the prom with crepe paper? At seventeen, crepe paper was the sign of a good time. All the rich colors to choose from. We could twirl it and drape it from the bleachers to the stage, tie it in a bow to decorate the front of the punch bowl table and wrap it around the basketball poles, a simple camouflage.  Crepe paper could change a gymnasium into a magical, memory-making ballroom. If it got stretched out and lost its shape, you’d just throw it away and grab a new roll. Presto, a fresh start.

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Who knew crepe paper would eventually become part of our anatomy? Yeah, that ugly, crinkly-looking skin that has moved in and forced its taut, firm predecessor to vacate the premises. I’m talking about the triceps area, the inner thigh, the back of our hands and the most ubiquitous of all, the turkey neck.

 

Short of going under the knife, a fresh start is not a possibility. Even with firm, toned muscles hovering just below the surface, the crepe paper effect persists. Just wave at a friend and those “Hi, Helens”, those “you who’s,” that free-wheeling skin dangling from our triceps gives us away. So halter tops, cute sleeveless sun dresses and strapless evening gowns have found their way to the Goodwill. I now welcome turtlenecks, long sleeve tops and slightly longer shorts. So be it.

Time ain’t no beauty specialist when it comes to our faces, either.  When I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I’m startled. Who is that looking back? That’s not me. I’m twenty-two, thirty-four, forty-eight. My skin is firm and smooth, no divots between my brows or red and brown blotches. My eyes are clear and open without folded layers of skin on my lids that make me look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s first cousin. My smile is defined by pearly white teeth and full red lips, not deep-set grooves shaped like parentheses on each side and a string of quote marks curved across my upper lip.

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Who is that in the mirror?

Now I remember.

Each line was born.

I came by them honestly.

Those lines springing from the ends of my eyes are reminders of the hours of laughter shared with my sisters until tears covered our cheeks and our sides hurt.

From squinting in the sunlight as the catamaran skimmed across the incredible blues and greens of the Caribbean Sea.

The parallel trenches engraved across my forehead are reminders of the fear I felt the Halloween night a sheriff’s car pulled into our driveway at 2:30 in the morning. Was our son okay?

The fear I felt the night I heard an enormous explosion in the direction of the airport just as my husband’s plane was scheduled to land. Was David okay?

The grooves bordering my mouth like a set of large-text parentheses are reminders of the years my mouth forgot how to smile. When grief pulled down every inch of my face, of my being, like a boulder around my neck. My daughter was not okay.

Yes, time has a split personality. It can heal and it can leave its footprints. Aunt Zip had it partially right. Time can also create a unique beauty that only years of living to the fullest can polish. When a friend says, “you look terrific,” I don’t say something to diminish or qualify that statement. I say “thank you” and let myself feel beautiful.

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105 year-old Aunt Zip

I sometimes wonder about the clothes I relinquished to Goodwill. Hopefully a young girl is enjoying them. Maybe someone getting ready for the prom.

Ginny

Where Is “Home”? Figuring It Out In Your 60s

Several years ago, when I was in my late 50’s and my husband was in his early 60’s, we stopped working full time in our business. With a management team in place, we were able to spend half of the year in St. Petersburg, Florida (where our company is located) and half in St. George, Maine. But we talked often about our future retirement years. Where would we call home? Did we want to stay in Florida or Maine… or move somewhere else?

Not everyone, of course, has an option. Health issues, financial constraints or family obligations might make this a moot point. But for those of us with some freedom to choose, the decision can be fun … and difficult.

A recent article in USA Today reported that retirement moves, which dropped sharply during the recession, are making a comeback. Florida is gaining 55,000 retirees each year, Arizona has seen an 18% increase and South Carolina 6%. North Carolina is a choice for many “half-backs” who don’t want to stay in Florida, but don’t want to return to the North either.

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I’m not sure what percentage of retirees actually make a move to another city, but one survey seems to indicate that if people decide to move, it is usually going to be before age 65.

… 73 percent of people between 18 and 29 would consider a move when it’s time to stop working. That rate drops to 62 percent for people ages 30 to 49, then to 50 percent for ages 50 to 64. Among survey takers age 65 and older, only about 1 in 5 said they would consider moving.

I’ve talked to many people in their 50’s and 60’s, and decisions about moving generally involve sorting through a lot of information… and often dealing with strong emotions.

Ray and I spent a lot of time on our decision journey. We talked to friends. We discussed the pros and cons of staying in Florida or Maine. We explored other cities. We made a decision, reconsidered, and then decided again. Finally, even before retirement, we chose to move to Asheville, North Carolina. Here’s what we considered:

Closeness to immediate family

Given how irritating it is to travel by plane, we wanted to be able to see children and grandchildren (who don’t all live in the same cities) within a 4 to 5 hour drive … a drive that might also be reasonable for them to make to see us. Having brothers, sisters and other assorted relatives within that drivable range was an important consideration, too.

Availability and quality of healthcare

This was a big deal for us, not because we aren’t healthy, but because we hope to stay that way and want to be prepared if (when) we have issues later in life.

Moderate climate

As I write this (April), it’s still snowing in Maine and it is in the mid-80s in Florida. We love both of those states, but it’s 65 in Asheville. A climate that doesn’t get extremely cold or extremely hot was important to us, especially since we both enjoy playing golf.

Availability of things we like to do

We wanted to live in an interesting city with great restaurants and music that also had a wide variety of outdoor activities, including walking trails, concerts and art shows. Did I mention golf?

Probability of friends visiting us

Since we would be moving away from good, long-time friends in both Florida and Maine, we hoped that our new home would be a place they might like to visit.

A special house

We wanted a home that we would love and one that provided a peaceful setting – preferably with mountain views, song birds at our feeder, occasional bears and deer, a place for our labradoodle to run and quiet star-filled evenings.

Probability of establishing new friendships

We wanted to meet people who were interesting – but also, people who were interested in forming new friendships. A city with other “transplants” seemed ideal.

Getting back to our roots

This wasn’t something we consciously put on our list or talked much about when we were considering our move. However, Ray grew up in a nearby South Carolina town and traveled to the mountains of North Carolina as a boy. And I vacationed with my family in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee many times when I was a young girl living in Cincinnati. The mountains felt good to both of us.

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Everyone over 60 who considers moving to another city will have different criteria and priorities. However, one thing seems clear to me: If you’re going to do it, you should probably do it while you’re young enough to deal with the actual move, while you have the energy to work on establishing new relationships, while you are healthy enough to take the time you need to find good healthcare providers, and while you are mobile enough to learn your way around the area and enjoy what it has to offer.

For me, it’s been a great move. Cool mountain air, a fabulous new home, a quirky city, wonderful music and restaurants, many interesting new friends, lots of visitors and a comfortable drive to visit kids, grandkids and siblings.

Half-backs? I guess that’s us.

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Cathy Green

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