I looked and saw my mother


All my life my hair style has been casual, generally a perm to keep my hair somewhat curly, (although frizzy poodle curly is more often the result.) However, I went to a different hairdresser the other day who was sooooo proud to give me a new look. She washed, conditioned, cut, and then blow dried my hair, all with my back to the salon mirror to surprise me. As she expertly blew out each strand, I knew that was extra effort that I was not willing to do, but decided to humor her this one time. Excited, she twirled me around to view the final results. Smiling broadly at my anticipated new and modern style, the image that greeted me was a shock. My mouth dropped into a grimace as I looked and saw my mother in the reflection…same perfectly coiffed old lady white hair. I was disheartened, not to say that her hair style was awful, but it was that of an elderly woman. At what point did people start to perceive me as old?

I took a good look at myself beyond the usual five second glance in the mirror. I had never before noticed how tired and worn my eyes looked. I had sworn off make-up years ago because the tremors in my hands always managed to screw up the application of mascara, poking myself in or under the eye rather than on my eyelashes. After trying to wipe the errant   make-up off, I looked like a racoon rather than the beauty I had imagined in my head.  And when had the wrinkles gathered around my eyes on my forehead and in my frown lines? Fortunately, due to an accident where I fell flat on my face many years ago, (trying to catch a young, mischievous Steven at the airport,) my nose had broken and the columella under my nose and above my lip had been damaged permanently, frozen in place, never to let a wrinkle in. At least there was ONE area on my face that was smooth.

My gaze wandered down to my hands and arms. A mass of alligator scales and wrinkles replaced the smooth skin I once had. And WHERE did all those brown spots come from? I had had my share of moles and freckles in my life, but this was an explosion of brown spots, all different shades and sizes.  Coming from a generation that did not believe in sunscreen, they must be the result of the sun damage that resulted. Then, I noticed two large flaps of skin hanging down from my upper arms, looking like all the stuffing had been taken out. What was with that?

The arthritis I have reminds me every day that I am older, with the large scar from the knee replacement surgery still dominant on my leg. Hubby’s similar scars have faded with time and can barely be seen, but mine stand out bright pink, zig zagged, and ugly looking. The scar announces to the world that my knee was old and needed to be replaced.

I was always known as someone who zips around quickly and clumsily, but my zip has been zapped and only the clumsiness remains. Hubby gets embarrassed when I trip over a curb or my own two feet, rolling his eyes at my awkwardness.  When grocery shopping with him, I sometimes bend over the carriage while pushing it due to back pain. I know it looks inelegant, but the position relieves the stress on my lower back, alleviating the pain. I have also been known to use the store’s scooter as an alternative.

My memory seems to be failing. A person’s name eludes me despite wracking my brain to try to remember. This, of course, can be embarrassing. I hope my smile and head nodding hides the fact that their name has not come to mind. Yes! I like you, whoever you are!

All these little life challenges are normal as we age, but they are not proof that I am old.  That proof came when I saw my reflection in that salon mirror…


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