Monday, May 15, 2006

90 is the New 60!

My Nana Spinelli, A.K.A. Florence Raphael (Petrillo) Spinelli, turned ninety years old on May 4th, and the woman still has it going on! Case in point: She got hit on during a birthday celebration the family threw for her at Prioetti’s last Saturday.

For those of you who thought you might‘ve read that wrong, I‘ll repeat the above statement: MY NINETY-YEAR-OLD GRANDMOTHER GOT HIT ON.

In a restaurant.

During her ninetieth birthday celebration.

After the Birthday Song was sung and the candles on the rum cake were blown out, a handsome, well-dressed gentleman of around seventy or so approached my grandmother, who was seated at the head of our veeerrrry loooong table, introduced himself, inquired as to which birthday she was celebrating, and nearly had a heart attack when my highly amused Uncle Sammy told him. The gentleman recovered enough to extend his good wishes to Ms. Florence, and exclaim how beautiful she was, how youthful, how amazingly well-preserved! Then, to the shock of everyone present, the man leaned in, planted a wet one on my startled grandmother’s mouth, and proceeded to ask her for a date. And then three miniature Dean Martins flew out of the busboy’s ass and soared above our heads while singing “That’s Amore.” Seriously. I am so not lying.

Well, okay, maybe the part about miniature Dean Martins was a bit of an embellishment.

Now, I’m no stranger to witnessing men hit up my nana -- she was a beautiful woman, a platinum-haired Sophia Loren type sans the throaty accent. She favored black low-cut tops and form-fitting pants. Her nails were always long and painted silver, to match her hair. She was never seen without her three-inch heels. Since I was a little girl, and on into adulthood, men would approach her in grocery stores, restaurants, museums, zoos, circuses (lordy, I’ll never forget the time a clown at the Shrine Circus attempted to get lucky -- the story is legendary, one that will be passed down from generation to generation, I'm sure), but as my grandmother advanced in age, health problems forced her to become less flamboyant; she had to trash her beloved stilettos and begin wearing sensible shoes, which I believe was more difficult to relinquish than her driver’s license. She was eighty-two.

Besides the obvious, other things caused my nana to slow down, things like losing most of her brothers and sisters. They were a close-knit family, she being the oldest of ten. As each sibling passed on or was diagnosed with cancer or debilitated by strokes, I saw my nana become less effervescent, drawn, dazed. She didn’t laugh so much, cried easily, became angry or frustrated at the drop of a hat. She despised the cane she was required to use. By the age of eighty-five, my grandmother finally resigned herself to the fact that she was old.

I think the resignation allowed her to move forward. After a few years of constantly hearing her say, “I can't believe how old I am," and “Oh, don't ever get old,“ and “I’m old, old, old!“ we noticed that she began smiling more and complaining less, noticed a lilt in her voice, the familiar and sorely-missed sweetness and graciousness that was always so much a part of her personality. She discovered an even deeper faith in her God, became devoted to her rosaries, began attending church twice a week. She began mingling with the other residents of her retirement community, venturing by herself to the store via Liftline, going to lunch with friends. She applied her makeup every morning, demure pats of blush on her high cheekbones, a bit of pink rose to her lip, some shadow to her still-mesmerizing amber eyes. She attended family gatherings looking marvelous, silver nails flashing as she spoke, funky yet tasteful jewelry tinkling at her wrists, sparkling around her neck. It was as if she’d found herself again.

And then, at the age of ninety, my grandmother was asked out on a date by a handsome stranger twenty years her junior.

You go, girl.


At 10:22 AM, Blogger Myfanwy Collins said...

LOVE it! Go, Nana, go!

At 11:23 AM, Blogger David Niall Wilson said...

But...did she say YES? (:

That's a great story...and it's amazing to have someone with that many years of life-wisdom to talk with...I envy you.


At 11:43 AM, Blogger Alice said...

My grandmother is 72 this year. She is a big woman, has sometimes crippling arthritis (not that it stops her getting around much. It's nigh on impossible to bloody well keep up with her), mad hair and a wide infectious smile. She always looks good, laughter is not often far away - although like me she has a hot temper and can be grouchy - she has the ability to flirt with every man within a hundred yard radius.

This flirting is loud, confident and often outrageous (she will blatantly ask a young man in his 20-30's if he is single and fancies being her "toyboy") and it always makes me laugh how she gets away with it so lightly.

Last month after a particularly harassed day dealing with a stubborn DVD player she told the 30 something handy man who was in repairing something for someone else in the complex that she had "had a hard day and needed a good looking bloke to hug her". He did and she told him he had made her day, and that if he was good she wouldn't ask him to come and massage her feet for her.

...God bless women, eh?

Especially women 60 and above who are not afraid to strut their stuff.

And yeah, good point David - DID she say yes?

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

She's so awesome, Myfanwy. GO FLOSSIE! (She hates that name. ;-))

David, she didn't accept his offer. I think she may have been put off by his tremendous cajones. ;-)

Alice, your grandma sounds like a terrific woman! And heck, 72? She's still a babe in the woods!

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anne said...

I think that's the key, really. Acknowledging the age (um, 40 in 2 weeks), seeing it, KNOWING it, and then moving on. Not trying to be an age yer not. Not whining all day about how old you are. Just ...going with it. Making the best of it. Wearing what the fuck you want to wear (age-appropriate, of course) and finding yourself in the year.
I dunno. Seems yer nanna has found out that James Taylor was right, and that the secret 'o' life IS enjoying the passage of time....

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Redneck Nerdboy! said...

Go Granny! It's your birthday!
Go Granny! It's your birthday!

At 2:39 PM, Blogger leenie71689 said...

Your nanna is so very different than my tiny little Korean grandmother. I love my grandmother and miss her so much. ANyways...I wish I had met your grandmother...she sounds amazing! I hope I'm like that when I'm 90! I'm starting to feel old...feel like I'm desperatly clinging to my this really hit a note for me. Thanks. I loved it! By the way - again, psychic sister! I am writing about a party I attended this weekend. Haven't had time to finish it yet but it's my next post...Luv you CC! XXOOE

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Granny said...

My mom will soon be 94 and still doing okay but I can't imagine her being hit on.

I think it's wonderful.

At 2:30 AM, Blogger Redneck Nerdboy! said...

Does it kinda make you feel good that you have hereditary genes that'll make you a hot mamma come your 90th?

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Anne, James Taylor is the BOMB. SO wise. I think my nana might've taken her cue from Perry Como, though. ;-)

Oh, Leenie, we all go through that weird clingy phase, I think, but aside from missing my taut before-babies tummy, there's not much else to pine for. With age comes a soft, confident, earthy sexiness, a *real* sexiness that only those truly comfortable with themselves possess. Very few of us are comfortable with ourselves before the age of thirty. So work it, you sexy thang!

Ann, my paternal grandmother turns 94 next month, and the poor dear isn't doing all that well, unfortunately. I think she's going to get a kick out of hearing about my Nana Spinelli's experience, though. She'll probably roll her eyes and say "better her than me!" ;-)

Jas, honey, I hope with all my heart I make it that far, but highly doubt it...If I do, though, you can bet I'll still be rocking what the good lord gave me. :-0

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Professor said...

This is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it!

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Thank *you*, Professor! So glad you enjoyed it!


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