Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you. –Else DeWolfe
I most distinctly remember a woman from this generation named Rose. Rose was already past standard retirement age by the time I met her. She and her husband had raised three boys and ran a small business in a small town in Oklahoma that wouldn’t have cared all that much had Rose taken her appearance a little less seriously. Stuck in the Northeastern corner of the state in a town that was perpetually dusty, Rose’s beauty stood out. Certainly, by the time I met her, she had more than earned the right to take a few days off from her routine on occasion, but to my knowledge she never did. She didn’t want to. Her appearance was important to her and that’s what mattered.
On one occasion, the purpose of which I don’t remember, I spent the night with Rose and her husband, a jovial man everyone referred to as Bus. They lived above their business in a house that was large and old and creaky. I was 12 years old and very apprehensive as to whether this old house might be haunted, so sleep wasn’t something that readily availed itself. Quite early in the morning, well before any reasonable person should be awake, I heard a noise down the hall. Slipping out of bed, I tiptoed down the broad corridor fully expecting to encounter something frightening. Instead, what I saw was Rose in her dressing room.
As an adult, I can appreciate everything Rose went through in an attempt to defy aging, and there’s no question her efforts paid off. There hung in her hallway pictures of her and Bus when they were younger. By today’s standards, Rose should have been a model; she was tall, shapely, and extremely attractive. Had she lived somewhere other than Oklahoma, she might have been a movie star. Instead, both she and Bus served during World War II and both were highly decorated. Where she was, the circumstances under which they lived and worked, didn’t matter. Rose made the same effort, went through the same routine, every day.
It is rare today to find anyone who takes beauty as seriously as did Rose. When I do encounter someone wearing an underbust and garters, it tends to be more as a costume than for function. I don’t think women today feel they have the time or the energy to devote to such a regimen, yet no one worked any harder than Rose did. Such beauty and graciousness is a choice.
Rose died when I was 19. She was 84. She never looked a day over 50 and she was never without a smile and a kind word. Beauty is worth the effort.