How many of you look in the mirror and think, boy, do I look great or what? Oh, I guess it would depend on when you look in the mirror. Frankly, in the mornings when I first get up and my hair is really going every which way and my eye bags are in full bloom, I look like a deranged chicken. But, once I’ve gotten the coffee ingested and the blood flowing I get a bit better. Then after a good face splash or two and make up on and my hair more or less styled, I think, not bad, not bad at all. And once I get dressed and accessorized then check the view, it’s darn, I’m smoking hot. That feeling will last until I run into a mirror outside of my house (or any form of reflective glass). Suddenly, I’m faced with a stranger. Who is that person wearing my clothes.
For a while on my Facebook page I had my Senior High School portrait (for you younger people, that would be a Senior Picture, we were much more formal then). When I look at that girl, I think my, what a pretty girl she was. Look at that innocence; you can see her hopes and dreams just shining from her eyes. When I look at pictures of my friends and classmates from that period, that is what I see in everyone. We were beautiful children, every single one of us. Oh, we laugh at our hairstyles and fashion choices of clothes, but that does not hide the beauty.
At that stage of our lives, we had not faced the losses and pain that would come in later years. We girls had not borne children that gave us so much joy but wrecked havoc on our waistlines and tummies. Boys still had full heads of hair and only the beginnings of beards that would soon turn to comb-overs and fuzzy ears. Our physical selves were at their peak or were soon to be. Oh we whined about pimples, greasy foreheads and braces, but I think deep down in our barely formed psyches we knew we were all that and then some. School, ballgames, practice, date nights and all that goes with teenage years were embraced without a second thought. We were young and we would always be young.
Young adulthood did not change us that much. We got jobs, went to college, got married, had babies, joined the military, but did not grow older. Pictures from those days still show young, beautiful people with their whole lives ahead of them. We did have worries now other than grades and game scores, but the biggies were still ahead of us. I look at pictures of me with Amanda and Luke as babies. I was just a bit more than a little girl at that time, but I felt oh so adult.
In five short years, we had high school reunions. Some of us were married and settled into what we thought would be our lives for ever. Others had just graduated from college and were sure their future was a shining star just waiting to be reached, while still more of us were in the Adult World of Work and beginning to see what our parents had told us about real life. But, still we were young and beautiful and could honestly tell each other, “You haven’t changed a bit!”
I’m not sure when time started to catch up with us. That intriguing white streak that was so sexy in younger days became a full out epidemic converting our once lush hair into a gray dull mess. And that was if you were lucky enough to still have it. Those healthy tans were no longer healthy looking. That five pounds turned into five more and five more and well, you know the rest. Those of you who have followed for a while remember our trip to Galveston. Nort was telling one of our friends about it. He said that one of the men said he was so disappointed when he first got there. Instead of seeing a bunch of his 19 year old buddies, there was a bunch of old fat men.
I think we have all at one time or another ran into some one we haven’t seen in years and wondered, boy does he/she look old. What in the world happened? I look so much younger! Ooops. If we could see into their minds, guess what they are thinking? Yep, we really look old to others.
And then, just when we least expect it, guess what happens. WE START GETTING YOUNGER AGAIN! Yes, it’s true. Think about it. We are starting out on a new adventure! So much to see, so much to do. The Golden Years are called that for a reason. Our children are grown. They are adults now and while we will always love them and worry about them, the pressure is off. If their behavior is not what we would like it to be, it is because of their choices. Job not great? Who cares, going to retire soon anyway. Never going to fit into your cheer leader outfit or your old Army uniform again? Do you really want to anyway. Should I care if purple eye shadow is not stylish, heck, I’ll wear it anyway. Want to binge watch something on Netflix instead of mopping the floor. Go ahead, your friends are doing the same thing.
One of the things I loved best when I turned 50 was realizing there was so much I didn’t have to do if I didn’t want. I don’t have to answer the phone if I don’t feel like it, and I don’t need an excuse. That is so liberating! We can spoil our grandchildren (and who doesn’t) and not have to worry that we are going to make them horrible adults (that is their parent’s worry). Laura and I were talking to our precious doggies (really, they are horrible doggies) in baby talk. We never did that with our kids. I commented on that. Her response was “I don’t have to worry about Lucy having a speech problem because of how I talk to her.” See, how much fun is that.
I have always loved to color, but there was frequently just too much that I HAD TO DO to be able to just sit down and color until my fingers cramped. I even used to feel that I had to be doing something else while I watched television so that it was not time wasted. Well, Laura got me a beautiful coloring book and guess what I do now. Yep and I don’t make any apologies for it either.
Which, brings me back full circle. Is there anything more beautiful than a face that has lived? Our skin is softer and clearer than it ever was and wrinkles just show how much we have laughed over the years. While our eyes may be behind bifocals, they sure do sparkle with remembered joys. Bodies are now just perfect for cuddling little ones, be they human or furry and our laps are where children want to be. We can embrace our salt and pepper or silver hair or we can go wild and crazy. In fact, right now I am rocking a wonderful violet color that is just too much fun. And don’t even pretend that a silver beard is not a thing of beauty.
Now when I see my family and friends I marvel at how beautiful they are now. I don’t see years added, I see years lived. There is not the self doubt and fear that seemed to develop into worry lines once we grew up enough to know there was so much we didn’t know and how scary the world can be. Our lives have reached a point where they are OUR lives, not a life yet to be and that in itself is a beautiful thing.