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Time Passes – now it’s swimsuits with skirts
It all started with a phone call from a friend. There was a pause in the telephone conversation. I didn't know how to respond. l did know intuitively that Linda, my friend of 25 years and I were experiencing rite of passage. No one had graduated, married or died. Nonetheless, it was marking where we had arrived. "Really?'' I said, trying to keep my voice even. “When did it happening?" "Last week," she replied. I was going swimming with my grandkids. I just wanted to have a good time; I didn't care how I looked. So I bought a swimsuit with a skirt. She paused, "I had a ball!"
I suddenly pictured my mother wading into a lake, bathing cap snug on her head, her bathing-suit skirt floating around her like a giant water lily. Another vision quickly replaced it: my friend Linda, tanned and beautiful in a white bikini, standing at the edge of a Central Florida pool. Even 25 years ago, I never wore a bikini. My demands were simple: a size I2 that ensured everything was covered, lifted or cinched. Suddenly, we both laughed. "Kid," I said, "this is it; the next step is burial plots."
After we finished our conversation, I could not shake the thought that life was passing too quickly. Linda and I seldom see each other anymore, but we communicate often by phone and email. She recently moved from Texas to North Carolina. She had been apprehensive. Would she find job? Would she make new friends? Later that week, the newspaper clipping arrived - she had been appointed education director of a working plantation in Charleston. She has created a butterfly garden that draws hundreds of visitors everyday.
She added a brief note. On Saturday, she would be going to a house party on Sullivan's Island at the home of new friends. I called her later that day. “We're still doing it,'' I said, "creating new roles." I told her that I had started a new call-in radio program and will be producing a half-hour television program this summer, I continue to enjoy teaching, writing and my laid-back Deltona lifestyle, We are not alone. My 92-year old mother now wears a size 6 one-piece swimsuit. I have female friends who have taken up scuba diving, sky diving or traveling to exotic places.
We are both in our 60s. What had we feared? When I was growing up, I assumed every woman in her 60's not only wore a bathing suit with a skirt but also that life consisted of baby-sitting grandchildren, making coffeecakes, and looking old, wise and wrinkled. I fully expected to be wearing elastics stockings, thick-heeled lace-up shoes and belted rayon dresses, if I were still alive. Recently, I received a letter from my granddaughters. They had enclosed pictures of themselves in their competitive swimsuits. Tall, dark and beautiful, they smiled into the camera, confident in their bright futures. I knew neither envisioned someday buying a swimsuit with a skirt. This week, I am going shopping for a swimsuit, perhaps not one with a skirt, but not one of the currently fashionable suits featuring legs cut to the hip. Perhaps I'll bring my mother along; she wants a new one, as well. Now, if only I could persuade her to give up the bathing cap.