Monday, February 7, 2011

Granny's Mirror

My great-granny still mopped her own kitchen during her 96th year. Having finished the job one morning, she sat down on the sofa and sighed in weary contentment. I smiled at her, wondering if I would ever consider a freshly mopped kitchen worthy of such joy. "Granny," I asked, "When did you know you were old?"

"I don't know it yet!" she chuckled. "Sometimes when I'm in the bathroom I see an old woman in the mirror, out of the corner of my eye, don't you know? And I holler because I think some old woman is in my bathroom with me!" We laughed, then she added, "I'm still that young girl on the inside. I guess you never lose her. She just stays around inside of you to see what happens."

Living among college students for over 30 years causes a woman to either grieve the aging process or embrace it. I was once an energetic sister-girl, maneuvering through my own early womanhood. Later I became a spiritual mother, learning the joys of being an older woman (30 is older on a college campus). The 18 year old freshmen appear younger and younger to me every year. It's quite simply the result of one's aging perspective, of course, but it's actually a little unnerving from time to time.

I have begun the second half of my first 100 years. Even women entering their third decade look younger and younger every year to me now. It's the continuing result of my aging perspective, of course, but, I confess, it's still a little unnerving from time to time.

But, it's true what my Granny said.

That young girl has stayed inside of me even though I now see a grandmother in my mirror. So full of hope and dreams, she was, so energetic and eager, delighted to watch the future unfolding. I'm glad she came along on my journey. I'm learning to not only like her, but appreciate her. In so many ways, I want to be just like her when I grow up.

(Painting by Mary Cassatt, "Mother and Child")

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