Aging gracefully (mostly)


This is the girl that claimed aging would not matter to her. Easy for her! (The picture was taken by a friend twenty years ago because my “new boyfriend” Alan asked for a picture and I didn’t have any. The lipstick was a rarity then; it simply doesn’t happen now!)

I was encouraged by my friend Joan’s post about aging a few days ago. It is always comforting to know that you aren’t alone.

I always told myself I would accept aging gracefully. This seemed like an easy enough claim to make, since I’ve never cared much about looks. My approach to personal appearance would be more accurately described as “try remember there is a line between being low maintenance and being a slob.” Like my friend Sarah, paint- and mud-covered studio clothes and flip flops are my normal attire.

Obviously this meant that when I started graying, I would simply be gray. Of course it helped that my image of “gray” was formed by the way my mother’s lovely true-black hair turned a cold-toned salt-and-pepper. What I didn’t bargain for was a white streak appearing right at the natural part in my hair. Despite the young people in my life insisting that this was trendy and cool, all my mental images of dark hair with a white stripe are distinctly negative. I would have been okay looking older… looking old even. But I wasn’t cool with looking like I should be kidnapping some nice young couple’s Dalmation puppies. So like Joan, I found a talented colorist.

That may have been a blow to theory about aging, but the really difficult part has been accepting the increasing loss of my sight. I have always been near-sighted, of course. It was pretty moderate when I was younger, so I only occasionally wore glasses. As my husband used to say, we wore glasses when we really needed to see, and didn’t when we need to be seen. (I should note that he does have some personal vanity.) Over time that changed to “not seeing much without them” and then to “needs glasses not to trip over things”. Still, through it all my near vision was fine, which was for me all that really mattered.

In recent years, the near vision has started to go, too. When this changed Joan’s ability to work on small-scale horses a few years back, my husband (an optical physicist) helpfully explained why it was inevitable. I chose to disbelieve him.

But working on Vixen and especially Imp, I know my days doing really small horses are numbered. Ott lights and lenses for close-up work are working for now, but I know that consistently working small is probably not in my future. Even now I can only work on them for a while before my eyes simply stop focusing that close. I don’t plan to stop releasing mini-scale pieces. (I’m still dying to produce Sarah’s upcoming stock horse stallion!) It is still my favorite scale, and I will keep working on small horses for as long as I can. But it is likely that the upcoming Elsie and Oliver will mark a turning point at the studio, with a greater number of larger-scale pieces being released.

If only reversing aging eyes was as easy as changing hair color!

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2 Responses to Aging gracefully (mostly)

  1. Sue Stewart May 23, 2010 at 3:52 am #

    Actually … Lesli, you may or may not remember that I have been quite nearsighted most of my life — if I didn’t know it was an E at the top of the eyechart, you couldn’t have proved it by me! And then, of course, along came time — and close sight started to go.

    However, all this is in the past, because not quite three years ago, it was discovered I had a fast-developing cataract. So I got implants — not just the crystal-lens, but crystal-restore, which deals with vision issues.

    I no longer require *any* correction. It literally turned back time for my vision — 50 years of time! My sight is 20/20 close and far, and while my middle vision is not perfect, it’s easy to adjust.

    Now, I understand it is likely that at some point I might need reading glasses again — but once I got past the year it took me to stop trying to remove non-existent glasses before getting into the shower, it has been wonderful.

    At least my EYES could get young again!

  2. Lesli Kathman May 23, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    I envy your “new eyes”! My mother had the same kind of surgery for cataracts, and doesn’t wear glasses after years of coke-bottle type glasses. I’m still getting used to seeing her without them!

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