The definition of “ageless beauty” is: adjective. not aging or appearing to age. lasting forever; eternal; undying: the ageless beauty of Greek sculpture.
I met a woman day before last that gave life to this rambling, this passing thought of mine, that I choose to share with women out there that may struggle with similar feelings about aging, or coming to terms with their own self worth. And before I get too long winded, I want to thank Nancy for this minuscule, pivotal window that she passed through my life leaving me with a strong impression on self acceptance.
She wore two long, gray braids, tied with leather thongs, and her hair parted evenly down the middle. What once appeared to be dark, brown hair, now showed blue roan tones of every hue of silver streaking. She wore a dirty, silverbelly Stetson crooked slightly sideways, faded, creased Levi button fly 501’s, a man’s ivory, pearl snap shirt tucked with an embroidered cross on the pocket. She was a breast cancer survivor evident of only having one left. Her pant legs tucked deep in her Olathe boots with stovepipe tops and steep, under slung heels. A hand-tooled, herman oak leather belt with an acorn pattern cinched her middle and was finished with an old silver buckle with very worn edges and Navajo turquoise inlay that scripted her name, Nancy.
Her quintessential cowgirl look was finished by her tanned and heavily lined face, and lithe, wiry body showing years of hard labor. I suspected her to be in her mid eighties. She had one thumb hooked in her pocket, while her other hand made gestures as she told a story of a young horse she was riding the rough off of that morning before she headed out to bale the rest of her hay left rowed in the field. Her knuckles were gnarled with short clipped nails, and her hands veiny.
But she was timelessly beautiful, and not in the false way that you so often see anymore; not your Hollywood glamorous bombshell. Nancy had never seen eyelash extensions, plastic surgery, Botox, and quite possibly never even a manicure or hair dye. I’d never met her before, but I’ve seen a few old cowgirls like her, and the one thing that struck me about each one was their peace of mind. Their life that had been so thoroughly and beautifully lived shown in every wrinkle and furrow on their face. Happiness, peace, heartache, and love. It was all there for the world to see; not one, not-so-glamorous ounce of it covered by makeup. Perhaps the most beautiful thing about women like Nancy is the grace with which they accept life as it comes, and not looking for ways to alter or hide themselves. The serenity that flows from within shows with such enveloping magnitude and confidence.
Nancy is everything I’d love to be remembered for in this life. Not what hairstyle I have, not the latest fashion trend, or coolest social media post, but rather a very real, authentic human being that had seen enough hardship to know back breaking work, enough loss to know to not take anything for granted, enough days in the sun to give way to facial character, enough courage to ride rank horses that make you appreciate the old reliables, and enough love to keep you from being jaded. I don’t want to conform to this thinking that I’m not enough just as I am, no matter my age or look or personality.
It’s clear that Nancy lives life on her terms, that no worldly views or man’s opinion mean diddly squat to her. She lives locally, works hard, and is content in that, and her faith, at the end of the day. She rests well at night and wakes with purpose each morning.
I don’t need, nor do I want, the world’s opinion or approval. I want to live so authentically true and honest, so that whether I die today, or fifty plus years from now, I left the world on my terms, happy, worn out, honestly and everlastingly beautiful. I know I’ve done damage to some, uplifted others, been both a blessing and a curse, but as life goes on, I want to make a wholesome effort to move forward in peace and forgiveness. In a place chalked full with fake and falsehoods, I want to be an everlasting Nancy, living life unapologetically, graciously and resplendently.