Body Image – at 85

by Helen Wilcox Gordon '40

I stand before my full-length mirror, astonished and grateful.

Astonished, I see:

  • a little old lady
  • 4 ft. 11 in. tall (2 inches shorter than in days at Scripps)
  • 120 lbs (less than ever before)
  • erect (not yet bent)
  • slender ankles and legs
  • straight white hair in the latest style
  • bifocals (since the age of 40)
  • nice teeth (dentures)
  • no makeup (it doesn’t help)
  • no hearing aid
  • no double chin (but a scrawny neck)
  • a good tan
  • an hour-glass figure (no longer tubby)
  • alert (still able to take care of myself, with help)
  • an appreciative smile (with which I express affection)
  • an eager aspect (winning new friends)
  • a happy grandma!

Grateful for: (conditions to which I attribute the above)

  • A lifetime of physically active work:
    • Nursing—hospital, army, school, public health
    • Homemaking—for husband and two children
    • Librarian—I retired at 80
  • Physically active recreation:
    • Hosteling by bicycle in New England
    • Eurailing and hosteling in Europe
    • Camping in state and national parks
    • Swimming and square dancing during the later years
    • Daily morning walks (in a pool now)
  • A seminar on heart healthy nutrition (before this information was generally available).
  • A more recent seminar on fatigue (the most common complaint at all ages).
  • Nursing education with its emphasis on accident and illness prevention.
  • Scripps College education, which encouraged many interests and interdisciplinary thinking, and has enriched my life through all the years, and continues to do so (recent surveys indicate that higher education contributes to more satisfying retirement years and less dementia).
  • Hillcrest, a remarkable retirement community near Scripps, set in a 40-acre garden, with services as needed, and opportunities to serve and enjoy.
  • Earl, husband and life companion, always finding ways to contribute to the good life.
  • Paul and Carol, our adult children, who respect us, and bring us joy.

It is my wish that all of you may be as lucky and as healthy as I am, at 85!