I see my mother when I look in the mirror. The line of my jaw, the way my eyelids crease, the bump on the bridge of my nose. But I especially see her when I’m tired – when my skin is sagging and flat and my brow is wrinkled. I think, ohhh, I look old.
And yet when I get to see my mother in person (about twice a year since we’re 2,000 miles apart), I see beauty. Yes, at 79 years and 10 months old, she definitely has wrinkles. And age spots. And she’s not very tall anymore. But she is strong and intelligent and her eyes can sparkle with fun.
All my growing up, Mom worked: at an office job, at home, with the horses and other livestock. I’d try to bury myself in a book after my chores were done and she’d call me out to help with something. In later years, we’d talk on the phone and about 10 pm she’d mention she had to hang up so she could finish painting a room or installing a light fixture. Even now, I feel guilty sitting around reading if another adult walks through the room!
Now Mom actively gardens almost two acres by herself. She could use some help with the mundane hard labor but has a hard time finding someone who “knows how to work.” She offers a certain amount per hour with the possibility of doubling it if they can keep up with her. So far, whether they’re 18 or 30, they can’t.
Heck with those youngsters – I’ve got 25 years on my mother and I can’t keep up with her!
Mom is very self-contained, enjoying a good time with a few friends, but also quite content to spend days in her garden without seeing anyone. She still builds bookcases and outdoor sheds, fixes the dog/deer fencing, digs out the pond. We kids breathed a collective sigh of relief when she decided she really didn’t need to do roof repairs herself anymore.
Like most seniors, she grumbles about government and young people both, and she still worries about her adult children and grandchildren. But from her Social Security, she donates to veterans’ organizations and takes food and clothing to people in need.
Mom’s not my only role model for aging with strength and grace.
I’ve worked with someone a few times in the temple who has far more wrinkles than Mom. Sister B is about 92 and her face looks like a Shar Pei. But she has the kindest, most loving eyes I have ever seen. One time I told her, “I want to be you when I grow up.” She smiled, looked around the temple, and said, “You will be if you keep coming here.”
I wish I had a picture of Sister B for you, but her image in my head is strong. It doesn’t matter that her skin is not dewy and young, that she’s slightly hunched over or that her bones feel fragile. Her spirit is beautiful and it shines in her face.
I think the only people who have naturally smooth, youthful faces when they’re old are the silly ones who have sailed through life with no thought. You don’t grow spiritually, emotionally, or any other way without challenges. Wrinkles are simply a badge of the years you’ve spent loving and laughing and crying and learning.
So when I look in the mirror, it’s not my gravity-laden skin I see now. I look for loving eyes, for a sparkle of fun, for strength in my muscles and my character. I want to see Mom in my reflection. I’m on my way to being her when I grow up.
First, what’s your take on wrinkles and other aspects of aging? And are you still deciding what you want to be when you “grow up?”
Second, this post is part of The Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2015. Click here to visit the main site and find other wonderful blogs about a woman’s true beauty!