When she was my age.

She not only looks like me, but she is with her friends, and they are all my age. 

Mary, my 90 year old grandmother who just moved herself into a retirement community, is looking at my grandfather through the 16 mm film showing herself, without pretension. The eye brows and lips belong to a woman who has yet to leave the home front. She sits in her bathing suit, in the sun. It must be the early 1960s, the Sail Fish Club at its peak. This century’s sexual revolution is coming, civil rights are starting. Women have short hair, short shorts, and maintain the family structure. Independence is not without permission.

Late night, I am waiting. I wait by watching the 16 mm films made by my grandfather, sent to me by my father, on my phone. In the film, the men, the women, and the children play. My grandfather Bill, sees the synchronicity and it is beautiful. My grandmother Mary, my genetic doppelgänger is mesmerizing. Her future husband is there, with his wife Rusty. She, like my grandfather, will die of cancer. In this film, Rusty is still the avid sailor. Everyone is glistening. I am reminded, we are all living the same lives, only improved….? By what? By invention?

Sheer joy of participating is the goal of the films. The stars of the film, people I knew when they were grey haired, and dying, are racing around in shorts with wind blown hair. There is the same pensive look fleeting through their faces, amid swigs of water, or gin and tonics, and laugher. There is the same management of food, and fun, and function. 

They are gathered, moving in and out of tiny sail boats, jumping off docks, sitting on rock ledges. Conversations are continued, are stalled, are shared at the water’s edge.

At the edge, the families submit to the winds, and the community. Everyone is submitting to the day. Submitting to the water. Except for those that are waiting. The time has yet to come. To go. To be. To leap. To shake it all off. Watching and waiting. And watching, for a turn.

When I look at Mary, looking at me sideways, through my grandfathers films. Her face says “there is so much more than this.” In my repetition of life, equality, and inventions speed up life’s functions. ok. ok. And yet, I have longer to live. By extension, my daughter will have even more time.

My grandmother, in my grandfather’s white oxford, outrageously beautiful, and ready for her own terms. She was my age when she built something to stand on.