“Check out your sister’s legs,” my sister-in-law called to my brother in September 2020. We had paused on a bike trail to drink some water. “They look like stovepipes.”
It was true. I had made a doctor’s appointment, but it was still several days away. When I pressed my thumb into my fat, puffy leg, it left a deep indentation.
When I was a teen, I had considered my legs one of my better features. Mini skirts were in fashion during my high school and college days. I sewed a jumpsuit in a bright purple, pink, and teal swirled fabric, marked the hem, and then marked it shorter still. Back then I wore shoes with heels—actual heels!—to complete the look.
I also cut off old jeans and pulled the threads so my shorts had fringes like Daisy Duke of the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard. Those of us who watched the show will remember Daisy’s legs, emphasized by her short-shorts. She would swing her hips, and we viewers knew she was on top of her game.
My first day at a teacher’s meeting in the Dells, I wore a short, flared skirt I’d designed. (I marvel I can remember this since it was 48 years ago.) My future husband, whom I hadn’t yet met, stopped me at the end of the day and asked me if I needed a ride home. (Wink, wink.) I give that short flared skirt partial credit for bringing us together.
When my husband heard my sister-in-law’s concern about my legs, he walked his bike over to join us, comment on my puffiness, and voice his concern. Many doctors’ appointments later, he drove me to Madison for a kidney biopsy (which showed that kidney disease was the reason for the leg swelling) and then later stayed with me while I received my first treatment of what proved to be a wonder drug for me, Rituxan. I was soon back to bike riding, playing pickleball and doubles tennis, a favorite.
It’s been 50 years since my mini skirt days and over two years since the start of doctor appointments. Life priorities, as you know, change as we age and our health and physical concerns take on more importance. The complements we once sought change, too. We’ve learned that flattering remarks about our personality, self-confidence, contributions, or achievements mean much more than those about our physical appearance.
I wore a skort the other day while playing tennis at an athletic center. I caught an older man in a white cap eyeing me up. He whispered conspiratorially to another man, “She’s got legs.”
For a fraction of a second, I was19 again, wearing my Daisy Dukes. Then I caught the scent of the Ben Gay which I’d rubbed on my joints to prepare for this doubles competition. Competition! “White cap” tossed me two tennis balls, and I happily realized he was warning his partner about my speed. What a compliment!
As I strode over to the serving line, my Daisy Duke skort flaring in the breeze, I couldn’t stop my hips from swinging. Let the game begin.