My Flashy Charla

My charla is flashy.

Hot flashy.

In my charla we talk about menopause.  But this story is not really about my charla; it is about the great-grandmas who come to my charla.  Hot flashes left them years ago, but the older ladies love to come to my charla anyway.  They sometimes wait in line to come.  As soon as the seats are free, they sit down and smooth their aprons. I introduce myself and tell them that my charla is about menopause.  They grin a little and wag a finger at me, gently saying "Ya pasó." (It's already passed.)  It's OK, I assure them, there are plenty of things that happen after menopause.  Of course they agree.

The post-menopausal women with lined faces, gray hair, flowered dresses, ruffly aprons and twinkly eyes tell me that they come because there is always something to learn.  They bring daughters, granddaughters and friends.  They often travel in pairs.  They nod.  They smile.  They listen.  They ask questions.  The young women watch them.  The young women listen to them.

I have a display.  I put up a pink backdrop.  My charla is flashy.

We spent one day at the Lutheran Clinic.  Two women sat down  After introductions I gave  each a half paper plate.  I told them we would make a little work of art during the charla.  It's practical - a hand fan for those flashy moments.

"I am an artist.  I really can draw," sang out one of the women.  She got started with her artwork right away.  The other woman hesitated.

"I don't know how to draw," she said. "I never went to school."  This is a somewhat common response.  Usually I encourage the hesitant women to try following the curve of the plate and make colorful lines.  Some have no idea how to use a marker.  I show them how to remove the cap and put color onto the plate.

The artist was a great encourager.  "Do you have a picture in your mind?" she asked the woman seated beside her.  "Everyone does.  You can draw -- just draw the picture you see in your mind."  The women draw while we chat about pelvic floor exercises.  The artist sat through 2 charlas so that she could finish her work of art.

We spent one day on a giant soccer field under tarps.  It was hot and windy.  Women in their 20's come to learn about the process their bodies will go through in 20 years.  Older women came in groups.  At every site the women are interested in the picture of the female anatomy.  We talk about everything.  The Menopause Charla provides a safe space for the women to ask questions and to make comments.  One grandma stayed for a minute after a charla group to talk with me privately.  "I want to tell you that for 30 years I did not have any relations, but recently, the experience came to me to have them again."  She giggled.

"And how was it?" I asked.

"Deee-viiiiiiine," she cooed as she looked up to the sky.

"Are you using condoms?" I asked.

She said yes, of course.  For a gentleman of that age, you cannot really know his history.


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