— Life —

Older, Wiser, Hipper

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In my family it is known as the “Jongebloed Hip.” Amazingly it is even less glamorous than its name.The Jongebloed Hip caused my grandfather and his twin brother to lilt to the left for their last 30 years. It caused my mother to concede that a hip replacement was on her horizon. I’m not sure what it means for me. Only that sometimes my hip speaks to me as I’m getting up from a seated position.

I’ve always been a person who didn’t give in to every ache and pain. These good intentions sometimes get waylaid in our 60s. That’s just the way it is. I’ve also been a person who took pride in aging gracefully. That’s not to say I don’t spend a small fortune on highlights for my hair or the best makeup I can find. We live in an age when you can still be pretty at 65. Even if you need extra time getting up from a seated position.

I have aging-gracefully role models in this endeavor. Lots of women who got on with the work of getting older without wringing their hands or flying to a plastic surgeon for answers. I was 21 when I met the first of these. She was 93. I was in college, and Mrs. Clark lived in one of the town’s last magnificent mansions still owned by its original family.

She hired me an afternoon a week so she could “go to town” and have lunch with friends. Her husband’s nurse drove her to and from the restaurant, so she needed extra help with Mr. Clark, who was 97. He was bedridden by then but had been known to try to get out of bed to sneak a cigarette.

The first time I met Mrs. Clark, I arrived nervous and a little early. I was ushered into the vestibule (the only word for it) by her uniformed maid. Mrs. Clark had begun her slow descent down the curved mahogany staircase. Radiant, she smiled at me as I waited below.

“I’ll be with you in a bit, my dear,” she said. “As you can see, I move with all the grace of a lame camel.”

Although she moved slowly, none of that was true. Mrs. Clark was still shining, still beautiful in her 90s. I picture our meeting now, during a year when I was just getting to that full bloom of womanhood, when somehow I just figured I’d never get old. I wonder when her hip gave her the first twinge. I wonder if she was surprised—like me—that she wasn’t going to stay young forever.

For now, I’ll keep her in mind every time I feel my hip say, “Not so fast.” I’ll keep leading with my better foot, taking my time. I’ll remember to smile; to be as pretty as I can be. And believe that if I take extra care in those first few steps, everything will even out. Just like Mrs. Clark did.


Linda Hummel


  • Rena November 4, 2015 at 11:45 am

    I don’t know if I am aging gracefully, but I’m still aging none the less. I’ve been feeling that same twinge and trying gallantly to ignore it!

  • 1010 Park Place November 4, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Have you ever wondered if we’ll be role models for a young woman? I remember a number of my roles models, but none were as old as Mrs. Clark. Charming, Linda! xoxox, Brenda

  • Dawn Sandomeno November 6, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I love that you highlight your role model – I hope I can be the same to someone when I have the opportunity. It’s so important xo

  • Jennifer Connolly November 6, 2015 at 10:13 am

    The twinges and aches seem to multiply monthly! I’ve just been told I need a hip replacement and it makes me feel ancient!

  • ccassara November 6, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Mrs Clark just rocks. My BFF is 86 (yes!) and a playwright who is well-regarded as a writer …and has had her share of ill health these last few years, but has always rebounded fit and not much the worse for it. She reminds me that with any luck I can stay vibrant, creative and sharp well into my 80s. I hope. Because she is one hell of a role model.

  • Esther Zimmer November 10, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I know a few Mrs. Clarks and I just LOVE them. They are my role models and so interesting – and at times quite naughty! One in particular makes her Gin and Tonics so strong that the first time my husband and I joined her and her husband for dinner at their place – we were taken by surprise and got very jolly. Let’s just say that I can’t really recall the cab ride home. What always strikes me with all of these women however, is the care they take in their appearance, in a way that signifies respect for the looks and body they have. I love it when women look after themselves that way. Esther xx

  • Donna O'Klock November 11, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Great story, Linda! I have been blessed with quite a few Mrs. Clarks in my life, but tops among them were my ex-Grandmother-in-law who at 101 was still in the kitchen cooking a full Italian spread for 12 at Christmas. My dear friend Nancy, 88, still hiked, did Yin Yoga twice weekly, and had just taken up Tai Chi. Activity kept both young.
    Unfortunately, neither gave a flip about their appearance, and neither touched strong drink.
    I won’t be emulating that. It is all about balance, after all, isn’t it??
    XO Donna

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