The Truth in My Mirror

I long ago accepted my senior-citizen status, but seeing myself daily, I didn’t notice the gradual changes in my appearance: wrinkles becoming crevices and gray hairs multiplying faster than dead grass in an autumn lawn. Then, last summer while brushing my teeth on a sparkling morning, I unexpectedly glimpsed myself in the mirror.photo 4

Until that startling moment, made worse by the toothpaste dripping from my agog mouth, I considered myself unchanged and wondered at the rapid aging I noticed in others.

I remember watching with dismay at my last class reunion as my once young and beautiful classmates socialized: favoring their bad knees and their good ears, wearing their nametags upside-down in case they forgot their own names.

“Why does no one recognize me?” I thought, “I haven’t changed a bit.”

Inside, I still feel forty-four and vigorous with unlimited possibilities; but, increasingly, I acknowledge the truth in my mirror; and, if I should forget, my grandchildren remind me.

When Sophia was four, I introduced her to a game I used to play with young students: “Let’s play the antonym game, Soph. It works like this. If I say up you say the opposite, down. So, if I say hot you would say…”

“Cold,” she responded, and the game began. We paired big and little, inside and outside, happy and sad.

Eventually, I stumped her with pretty. She frowned in concentration. Then, “Oh, I know” she chirped, studying my face, “The opposite of pretty is old.”

My laugh was tinged with rue.

A few years after that her brother, a teenager, threw his arm around me after telling me a funny anecdote and said, “Hey, you should laugh all the time. It makes you look younger because the lines in your lips go away.”

With grandchildren around, who needs a mirror?

Still, even with the honesty of my young ones to remind me, I sometimes do a double take when I’m given the senior discount at the movies without asking or when a librarian glances at me and says I’ve reached the age where I can check out the new books for a month, rather than a week.

The rule-makers of the library system must think I’ve lost the ability to read quickly as I’ve aged.

Well, maybe I have; it does take me longer to finish a book — I tend to doze off.

As we all must, I am coming to grips with the realities of aging: its physical changes and mental rewards, its upsetting challenges and quite pleasures. And, increasingly, I no longer see myself in the mirror with eyes tricked by memory, but with a spirit learning acceptance.

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27 thoughts on “The Truth in My Mirror

  1. I understand every word you say. This morning I woke looking like Medusa on a bad day and thought “where do I go from here before I can leave the house or answer the door”. It’s getting harder to be me, or at least the me I remember.

    Choosing “authentic” as my life theme this year, I’ve allowed my gray to grow out. I look my age for sure but it’s also been liberating. Janet, your last sentence is where I hope to be, learning acceptance….and enjoying many of the admitted pleasures of getting older.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At least you don’t have to remove your teeth to brush them…Got my first wrinkle at 30, was a bit grimy from a coal fire, showed up clearly, the chin kind, have proudly been grey haired since 19, my “Dignified Bits”. 7 years ago Arthur I Tuss came courting, had to give up cycling as falling off began to hurt. Being plump, I have avoided the dreaded crepe’ neck wattles. It”s all about keeping the Knapcap healthy, playing Jeoopardy, the daily guffaw. Great post, thanks Janet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ten years ago I was sharing a laugh with my young nephew when he asked: “Aunt Rita, why is your face so crinkly?” That’s when I knew I was growing older.
    Accepting the inevitability of the aging process?
    I’m trying!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. About fifteen years ago I wrote a column about seeing my mother in the mirror. Something along the lines of “I wasn’t expecting you so soon.” In it I remember writing that while it was alarming at the time, in the future, when she was no longer around, I might find it comforting. She’s been gone ten years, and let me just say, not comforting yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “… a spirit learning acceptance.” I love your words. And I love the reference to the fact that while we notice the physical aging, we also recognize that we are first and foremost spirits– we are more than these bodies that will age and decay and eventually die.

    Like

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