Wendy Rieger’s family, friends and colleagues took part in a celebration of life ceremony on May 11, 2022. The event featured several speakers including Carl Menninger — Wendy’s longtime friend, drama professor at American University and her frequent creative partner. Carl read an essay by Wendy about aging that we’re sure is relatable to many people. A warning that this piece contains profanity so viewer discretion is advised.
Moments of clarity.
Those realizations that are not big enough to be epiphanies but are serious enough to motivate us to action.
As I get older these moments of clarity begin to come in strange waves like mental hot flashes that force me to strip down because – like my closets – I too have accumulated a shitload of crap.
It was a moment of clarity recently that forced me to discover something about myself that needed to be peeled away.
I saw my ass at Macy’s.
It was just hanging there in the rear view mirror in a dressing room that had seen better days. And so had the back of my thighs.
My first response was to call out softly: ‘Mom? Is that you? ‘
That flabby ass looked familiar to me. My mom used to wear it all the time. Perhaps she had snuck into the dressing room and was trying on clothes behind me.
But. Damn. Mom’s been dead for 14 years. Shit!
I took another look. Mamma Mia. What a mess.
It looked like a mudslide after torrential rains in a Los Angeles suburb. It looked like something I’d seen on Nightly News. It looked like a job for FEMA.
The problem with moments of clarity is deciding what to do with this breaking news. So I’ve got a disaster back there. A dis-ASS-ter.
I surveyed my options: liposuction, surgery, exercise, diet …. or my favorite: F – k it.
And this is where the rubber meets the road … or in this case, the spandex meets the cellulite.
My success in my pursuit of happiness has nothing to do with my ass. I’m middle-aged.
Yeah, I said it. Middle. Aged.
I’m 60. And this is kinda what a woman’s ass looks like at 60. Jane Fonda is an aberration, people! A lovely person but an aberration.
At 60, I ask myself: What do I have that younger women don’t? Oh, I got something. I got a lot of something: mastery.
What I’ve lost in metabolism and collagen has been filled with wisdom and some clues about navigating my way joyfully to the homestretch. At this age, I can’t tell you what I want. But by God I know what I don’t want.
I have seen the death of my parents, three cats, several friends, one marriage, three great loves and some of my confidence when I look in the mirror head on.
But my dad told me, at the age of 93, that growing old isn’t for wimps.
It takes courage to master the buckling road ahead. Courage to withstand the losses to come and courage to check my weapons at the door and stop raging at the dying of the light.
We are burning daylight. And we have much to cover before the darkness comes.
Let us fill our arms with each other. Fill our glasses with the best wine. And fill the air with a Berber yell.
Yes, my friends, I saw my ass at Macy’s and it said … my dear girl … don’t look back.
Wendy Rieger reported and anchored for News4 for nearly 35 years. An avid writer and beloved colleague, wife and friend, Wendy died of Glioblastoma in April 2022 – days shy of her birthday. She was 65.