When Elaine Soloway approached her 80th birthday, the famed author decided to give herself a unique gift.
And the philosophy behind her decision would leave you in awe.
Soloway decided to get a tattoo of a seahorse, named “Graciela,” on her right bicep. The author of The Division Street Princess now takes care of her tattoo as if she were “tending to my newborn child.”
“My tattoo is a gift I recently gave myself as I approach my 80th birthday, which falls on Aug. 10,” Soloway said. “It is also a reward I bestowed on myself after finally learning to swim just one year ago.”
There were many different ways by which she could’ve marked her upcoming milestone birthday, such as dyeing her gray hair or undergoing cosmetic surgery to make herself more youthful.
The woman, however, decided “not to go that chancy route” because she enjoyed a “cushy contentment” in her single life.
Moreover, she’s never been “envious of friends who chose to have their foreheads planed, their eyelids lifted or their cheeks enhanced.”
Soloway says she’ll never enter a hospital willingly and will “wait until a dire discovery demands admission.”
Graciela was her second tattoo as she marked her 60th birthday in a similar way by getting a tattoo on her left bicep featuring a heart, musical notes and the names of her two daughters, Faith and Jill.
While her first tattoo was a tribute to her daughters, the second one was an attempt on her part “to start a dialogue about ageism and how women my age are seen and treated.”
“I worry that some women in my cohort are the biggest offenders,” Soloway says. “Why do they refuse to offer their age when asked? Why do they feel the need to change the way they look?
“What does that say about how we feel about ourselves? Why do so many choose to deceive or alter, rather than be proud of, our years?”
Soloway says younger individuals are often favored “when applying for a job, filling out a profile on an online dating site or considering countless other situations and opportunities.”
And that’s what causes “older people to fudge their ages and their appearances” so as to cross such barriers. “But instead of accepting those barriers, why not work to bulldoze them?” she asks.
The author’s new tattoo reveals a story of her life and indicates how she has successfully “bulldozed” all the barriers which force other people of her age to alter their appearances.
When asked about the meaning of her tattoo, she explains “that the seahorse is a symbol announcing ‘it’s never too late to reach your goals,’ a message I consider vital to older people.”
Soloway had three long-held ambitions which were swimming, learning Spanish, and learning Rodgers and Hart on the piano.
“Admittedly, all three of these skills require daily practice, which I do willingly,” she says.
“My target is not proficiency; I’m content with mediocrity. I will never compete in the Senior Olympics or may not ever master any stroke other than the crawl, but I’m gratified that I can swim and breathe on one side in water that is not over my head.
“I’m also OK that in conversations with Spanish-speaking people, I often have to request, ‘por favor repita lentamente,’ or ‘can you please repeat that again.’
“And when I’m bent over the piano, I allow no audience ― it’s just me playing standards in my blow-by-blow rhythm with my breezy voice as accompaniment.”
Soloway says artificial measures like a face-lift are useless as they’ll do nothing to enhance her pursuits.
“My pool, queridas amigas (dear friends), and my piano accept me exactly as I am ― wrinkled, gray-haired, old, tattooed and agradecido (grateful),” she says.
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