I watched this video this morning and then again this afternoon and learned something about myself.
The first time I watched it I thought Mrs. Lewis was adorable. In that “Aww, I love old people” sort of way. Because I really do. I think of my grandparents ever single day and miss them terribly. Watching an old couple walking hand-in-hand draws a happy sigh from the deepest part of my heart.
But then one of my college professors posted this video with a note about how Flossie Lewis had taught her daughter writing, and about how she had been her daughter’s inspiration to write.
Oh, a Writing Teacher! Suddenly, I didn’t see her as a Sweet Old Lady, but as a writer and a scholar. Suddenly, things she said weren’t adorable, but wise in a whole different way. Suddenly, her use of the term ‘sly little bit of verse’ meant something else entirely.
Suddenly, it was obvious that I had looked at her through a lens of preconceived notions. Something I hate to see other people do to me.
I know it isn’t easy, and maybe it isn’t entirely awful (okay, it is) but it really made me want to set aside my handy dandy lens. Maybe being patronizing is only a little bit better than being a bigot. They’re both ways to project your own reality onto unsuspecting, undeserving victims.
The next time I watch an old couple walk hand-in-hand, I’m going to tone down the warm fuzzies and try to see the people, not just a gooey promise of what I feel old age should be. And when I stop pre deciding, who knows what I’ll really see.
Flossie Lewis says she’s 91 years old and badly crippled. But just because her body is starting to go doesn’t mean her personality or character should. Taking walks, watching politics and writing a little bit of light verse help keep Lewis as optimistic now as she was at 15. Lewis gives her Brief But Spectacular take on growing old with grace.