I remember quite clearly the day my mother laughed recalling passing a mirror in the house while she was cleaning. Without really thinking about it she glanced up when her reflected movement caught her eye. She recalled that her immediate thought was “who is that woman staring at me?” and then realized almost instantly that the stranger staring back at her wasn’t some older woman peering in at her through the window, but herself in the glass. My mother didn’t recognize herself in that instant because she had been swept up in what she was doing, singing or humming, zipping along, only as old as she felt. If you have ever had the immense pleasure of meeting my mother, you will know that she is always a vibrant, lively, and engaging companion. I have more pictures of my mom grinning wildly, up in trees along with my children than I can shake a stick at. My father’s heart has been caught in his throat more times over her scaling trees and ladders, when a more sensible person might have hired a handyman to do the job. She is so young at heart, so unsinkable in spirit that she is the perennial tween, always caught up in the passion of the moment before sense and age weigh in to meter her level of physical investment. I adore her. I hope I am half the woman she is.
When she looked at the aged face of the woman in the mirror, etched with laugh lines and worry lines from living so well, she was surprised to see that her outward appearance seemed at odds with her inner youth.
After 46 years of never needing to wear glasses (although my children would argue my driving suggests I’ve needed them for quite some time) I find myself bespectacled. I have been constantly amazed at how sharply things are in focus now, that I no longer need to stretch out my arms and squint at books and papers and instructions on medicine bottles! I found myself enraptured with the details now visible to my eyes, thinking “How did I put this fabulously improved vision off for so long? How have I been getting around? How have I not poisoned my family yet?”
Then it happened. I passed a mirror the other day while cleaning in my house and stopped to lean in to fix a wayward strand of hair. She was staring at me. A stranger. An older version of myself with lines on her forehead, creases around her eyes, and grey hairs. Where did that woman come from? Who let her in? And it hit me. I was the stranger in the glass. Somehow, in the busyness of my life, in the energy and music of my days, I had changed outwardly while inwardly still climbing trees. When had this happened? How did I not notice I was getting older? I decided I wasn’t so sure getting glasses had been a good idea, bringing into focus more than simply books and words. I was sharply in focus too. Yet, the woman looking back at me had kind eyes that sparkled with humor and more than a little devilment. She looked like trouble, and I like trouble. She’s older than I’d like but I’ve decided she’s someone I want to get to know better. She seems like the kind of friend I want to be. And I bet she’s just the type who’s willing share a jail cell with you just to have a good time. I can tell just by looking at her that we’re going to be good friends.