As Old as my Little Finger

As my mother was dying, the tissue and transplant team came to me, asking what they might be able to use of hers. My mother was a thrifty woman, as am I, so I was happy to have this conversation. It went well until they asked me her date of birth.

“June 27th”, I said.

“Year?” said the nurse.

And I paused. You see, for all the time I can remember, my mother said that she was “as old as her little finger and a little older than her teeth.” Observations based on aging were of no help. Women in my family look about the same from 15- 25. We look about the same from 25-40. Then we look about the same from 40-60. We are not so long-lived that I can really tell you what we look like at 80.

When my mother died I had an idea that she was past 60, but I could not tell you how far past 60. Maybe 62. Maybe 72. I didn’t know.

They consulted her chart. Got a year. She died and I really didn’t know. I wrote it down somewhere, but when asked how old my mother would be, I still default to answering “as old as her little finger, a little older than her teeth.”

This doesn’t fit on a form. Especially not the sort of ridiculously officious forms from the government, which require your mother’s date of birth.

June 27, 1947.

Or as old as her little finger and a little older than her teeth.

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1 Response to As Old as my Little Finger

  1. Mali says:

    My mother used to say that – I don’t think she said “little finger” but I can’t remember now what exactly it was that she did say. I see in a quick search that some people say “nose” and others say “tongue” – I guess it’s a case of pick a body part. But she was always a little older than her teeth. Thanks for reminding me of this saying, and of her saying it.

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