Nancy Roman

Sixty Is The New Thirty-Seven


This is my Great-Grandma’s (Meme’s) family.  The photo was taken on Meme’s 80th birthday in 1951, the year I was born.  There’s a photo somewhere of her in that same chair with me in her arms.  But it’s this photo that fascinates me.

Standing around Meme are her children.  That’s my Grandma on the far right. My father’s mother, a strong-featured woman, and beautiful in her own way.  Her two younger sisters are on the left. Grandma’s brothers stand in the middle.

These sisters, Lavina  (Grandma),  Loretta, and Lillian were my favorite companions when I was a little girl.  They were smart and funny, and full of love.  They had huge soft bosoms that smelled liked roses.   They liked parakeets and soap operas and “Queen For A Day”.  They cooked things baked beans and clam chowder – stuff that would simmer all day. They wore aprons in the kitchen and big brooches when they dressed up.  They always had a handkerchief tucked up a sleeve. They had permanents. They played cards. They laughed. They sang  –   “Let Me Call Your Sweetheart” was Grandma’s favorite.  Aunt Lil played piano. Aunt Lora wished she could be Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke, running the whorehouse and drinking with the boys.

Now here’s what amazes me:  These three sisters are younger in this photo than I am now.  Take another look at these beautiful but decidedly old women.

Now here’s me:

I took this self-portrait on my sixtieth birthday.  Older than Grandma.

It’s not photoshopped; it’s me. Although I admit I had the photographic advantage that my Grandma and her sisters did not have, in that I took quite a few shots to get this keeper.  (let’s say more than one but less than two hundred.)

The much greater advantages I have had include an extremely cushy life and the freedom to be unabashedly self-absorbed.  I’m sure I spend more on cosmetics in a year than my Grandma and her sisters spent combined in their entire lives.

And then there’s hair color, contact lenses, mousse, blow-dryers, teeth whiteners, skin creams, facials, designer clothes, shapewear, and yoga.

But I’m a natural beauty, down deep, because it’s in my genes.  After all, I got those my genes from my Grandma and Aunties.  How could I miss?


  1. Debbie

    These were my grandmothers to a ‘T,’ even down to the hankie tucked up the sleeve! And the cooking and baking? Nothing has compared.


  2. sarah

    Ha! I’d love to see your Gramma in a pair of whisker jeans!


  3. You look fabulous! I miss the simmering pots of beans, the smell of chantily perfume, and Another World. Three of my great aunts and grandmothers favorite things!


    • Another World.. That was the best! Steven and Alice, I think.


  4. Snoring Dog Studio

    Yesterday evening I found out that I’m closer to 60 than I thought I was. I’ve been living, blissfully living, in denial for quite a few years, it seems. My brother and sister set me straight about my age. Okay, I had a few moments of horror there. Then, after reminding myself that I look better than a lot of women 10-15 years younger, and having helped a guy push a 3,000 pound car into a trailer yesterday, I need to put my age in perspective – and DISREGARD IT COMPLETELY!


  5. Ha! Loved your post title. This is so true. I thought of this recently when my sisters and I hiked 2 hours up a mountain – my Mom would never have done something like that at this age. And every time I do yoga, I recall that I’ve ever seen my mother down on the floor. And thank God for hair dye, that’s what I say!


  6. Yes, you are a natural beauty! I am always taken aback when I see old pictures of my grandparents – even in their 40s, they look ANCIENT. My parents are 60, and they both look as young and vibrant as you!

    The line “let’s say more than one but less than two hundred” made me laugh out loud. We are so cut from the same (fabulous, designer but on sale) cloth. I will never understand why people willingly post unflattering pictures of themselves online. Do they not realize they’re in complete control of the situation? Or am I just that vain? (I’m totally okay with that, by the way.)


  7. Your grandma’s were just like mine…except the Miss Kitty thing. And they always looked old. One of them died at an age younger than I am now and she was definitely matronly.

    Wonder what the 20 and 30 somethings will look like in 30 or 40 years. And what will they think when they see pictures of us?


  8. Yes, when you were describing your aunts and grandmother, you certainly could have been describing mine. (well, except for the Miss Kitty thing…)
    Last October, I portrayed my grandmother during a “Twilight Tour”. To see me as her, click on this link: And you can see her in this link: during a twilight tour. Amazing, isn’t it?


    • I love your blog! And both my maternal and paternal grandmothers had those shoes!


  9. I loved this post (as usual). I do think that adults dressed and acted a certain way. I know my mother never played on the floor with her children or grandchildren, never wore jeans, hardly ever wore “slacks”, always wore high heels, etc. We are fortunate to have been born when we were. Times are so much more relaxed, and I don’t HAVE to wear high heels every day! Thank God!!!


  10. It truly is amazing the difference in how our generation is aging as compared to those before us. I think so much of it has to do with ‘attitude’ and ‘exercise’…neither of which those before us had.
    Another wonderful post!


  11. Awesome post! Great insights! I’ve noticed the same things in photos of my mom, grandmas, aunts . . . we have some advantages, don’t we? Or is it that our perception of age just change, as we age? I’ve wondered.


    • I do think we look at age differently. I think earlier generations of women thought it was only proper to LOOK old. I would have rebelled.


  12. bigsheepcommunications

    Photos like that are priceless and so are those memories : )


  13. hank

    very very sweet post. sounds like a wonderful family. you are blessed.


  14. I traced your blog through Crabby Old Man, and I am so glad I did. I too am aging, albeit less gracefully than you seem to — and you will never see MY picture on my blog!

    I loved reading about your Aunts (Mine were Aunt Allie and Aunt Ruth on one side, and Aunt Marion and Sally on the other — they all fit this description!) and about your concerts in that lovely part of CT (I’m a native of Westport, former resident of Simsbury). Thank you for making me smile on a damp Sunday in Virginia!


  15. i remember both my grandmothers in their orthopedic shoes who did not live to reach the age my mother is now. They were beautiful women on the inside and I wouldn’t trade their permanents and shoes, the card games we played, the baking, knitting and sewing for anything…and I certainly marvel at the beauty of my mother now, how she continues to teach and support her beloved university. Each generation, very different.


  16. I can make the same observation about my mother. At 43 (my age), she looked MUCH older than I do now. Acted it, too. Of course, that may be my distorted perspective talking.


  17. You’re so right – we definitely look younger than our forebears at the same age. I was looking at a picture of my mom the other day, and I thought exactly the same thing.

    My mom died when she was only 48. She had just gone back to university to complete her degree, and she loved being in classes with the teens and 20-somethings. She was just beginning to take back her own life and her own style after raising three kids, and I like to think that if she had lived, she’d be wearing whiskered jeans today at age 76.

    I bet she would have gotten rid of the “permanent wave” hairstyle, too. It just screams, “I’m old!” 🙂


    • Sounds like she would definitely be as cool today as she was in college in her forties. I’m sure you were and are still really proud of her!


  18. Great post!! (P.S. What are whiskered jeans? I think I’m getting old(er) . . . ♥


    • They have the creases in the thighs bleached in. Definitely for the very young. And for me – I have a pair. I wrote about them in my post “Gullibles Travails”.


  19. Isn’t that the honest to God TRUTH! Hair and makeup help a LOT, don’t you think? My x-husband’s aunt at 50 looked really old but as she got older, with the hair and makeup, I think she took back a couple of years. Hurray to the 20th century.


  20. If you ever watched the movie, “What the bleep do we Know” you’d know why you look so dam good….you’re grandparents look very German. Deep barreled, strong..and if they are of German stock, then that explains the intelligence.

    Very sweet piece!


  21. check out book, Fifty is not the New Thirty – Stuck between a Rock and a Hot place by Tracey Jackson! You will get a giggle…


  22. They were soft in the squishy, comforting way. Our generation is soft because our lives are relatively easy compared to their daily living/survival issues. Thank goodness for that! 🙂


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