Diva: A diva (/ˈdiːvə/; Italian: [ˈdiːva]) is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diva)
When I was little the only person associated with the term Diva was Maria Callas. She was the ultimate prima donna. An opera singer with an unmatchable voice. A drama queen whose on again- off again relationship with Greek Tycoon Ari Onassis would rival any to today’s TV soap operas. She was known for being temperamental and demanding; flying into rages if the orchestra made a mistake or Ari didn’t send the right gift. She was a woman of presence. She was a woman who demanded to be taken notice. She had sex. The mothers who belonged to my suburban world scorned her. She was held up as the opposite of womanliness…and yet, I admired secretly admired her.
Maria Callas knew her worth. She knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it. She loved deeply and was passionate about life. Her mistakes were very public but so were successes. She was not shy about who she was or what she felt. To my eye she was what being a woman was all about; strong, tender, demanding, giving, sexual, loving and fearless – a conundrum to men but totally understandable to women.
In my teens and twenties I practiced different personae’s, trying them on like costumes.
In my thirties and forties it was about family. As they grew, so did I. I became confident in work and home. I learned what I liked and what I didn’t, but most of the time it didn’t matter because I loved my family and what they liked came first. They grew, got married, and grandkids came. My parents died and I felt orphaned at 50.
At 50 parents and kids didn’t need me and I felt the pull toward invisibility. My waist spread, I felt dowdy. Men stopped looking and people in their twenties started calling my “ma’am”. Maria Callas whispered in my ear that now was the time not only for my waist to spread, but also for me to spread my wings.
I knew what I liked. I had earned my way, I stood tall and instead of drifting into invisibility I decided to demand respect. When I looked into the mirror I was tempted to work hard a looking younger but after noticing how poorly my friends really looked with their collagen injected lips, their too skinny arms, and too young outfits, I decided to challenge myself to look healthy and strong. I began to like the look of everything about the aging me, except my colored hair that seemed phony. I decided to go grey. But grey didn’t happen, a glorious white silver did. No, I am definitely not invisible. I opened a store, loved it, it didn’t work. I closed my store. I cried. I dusted myself off and started again. I play with my grands. My shoulders are big enough to cry on and my arms broad enough to hold the broken-hearted. Travel? At the drop of a hat. Friends? Many. I laugh and cry. I have found my passion and it’s living.
My mother and her friends were wonderful women, but in the end they questioned their lives. My mom regretted never having lived her own life. Maria Callas lived her own life. My family is still my North. My husband is my great love. I have been a woman of outstanding talent in the theatre of my own life and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have grown into being a woman; strong, tender, demanding, giving, sexual (its gets better and better), loving and fearless- well, almost fearless. I am living my own life. I am at last a Diva.
Beth Moody (aka Granny Beth) writes A Warm Hearth, the blog for women creating or recreating their lives.