May 15, 2018

Tree rings, milady

V0007469 A very old woman. Pencil drawing after Rembrandt.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
A very old woman. Pencil drawing after Rembrandt.
By: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van RijnPublished:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

I saw the oldest woman in the world yesterday getting on the bus. She wasn’t the stereotype of a “bag lady,” however. Not odoriferous, nor ranting, drooling, twitchy, etc. She was, rather, the embodiment and definition of age.

She was a continent of wrinkles. She was like a fairy tale of an old woman. She could have been an oak tree that was already old when the pilgrims first made landfall. So gnarled and crinkly.

She could have been a forgotten goddess of some ancient mountain chain, once as high as the stratosphere and now worn down by wind and water to stubs and nubs.

Her hair was a huge flyaway mass of gray and a pale, washed-out color that may have once been yellow.

She was enshrouded by skirts and jackets and scarves and fabric, like the curtains of an old manor house.

And within this mobile agglomeration of antiquity was a face and a voice.

As the driver put down the ramp, we all leaped up to make room for what we assumed was a wheelchair. Everyone moved back a row, and I flipped up the right-side seating, where the wheelchairs go.

Then I saw it was in fact a walker she gripped, not a wheelchair.

I flipped the seats back down and apologized to her for assuming. She looked at me and her eyes were bright sparks.

She smiled and said, “Not a wheelchair, but we appreciate your effort,” and her voice was completely clear and fresh, like the dew on blossoms in the morning.

[I rescued this from Facebook; originally posted there on May 15, 2013.]