As I look into her face, a face I have been looking into since I was born, I lose myself in her wrinkles. Some fine and barely there, others etched in as deep as if carved there by a stone-cutter. To her the wrinkles are sometimes valued; but mostly unwanted as they mark the passing of time and reality sets in that her youth might finally be gone. The wrinkles that cross her face are like blankets to me, something I can crawl into…cover myself with…. comfort myself in…memories and the people that created them. Looking into the mirror I see my own wrinkles that are being fashioned. Some around my eyes, some near my lips and my neckline is beginning to show the roadways created by age.
I have heard her voice say, as she looks in a mirror, “I don’t even recognize myself sometimes”. I tell her…and it is true, “I don’t even see them.” When I look at her, generally, I see her from my own youthful eyes and memories. I see her from the stories my dad told of seeing her around a corner as he decided if he was going to actually meet her and how taken he was by her beautiful auburn hair. I see her from the pictures of her youth; as beautiful as any Hollywood movie star and twice as glamorous. Picking me up from school, attending my concerts and plays. I see her making dinners for family and standing by the sink cleaning the dishes after our big, loud family has gathered. I see her caring for us when we are sick. I see her worried about how she will feed us but never turning anyone away from a meal in our home. I see her arms open with a hug. Running after grandchildren, sitting in a chair in the corner crocheting Christmas stockings to hang by the fire. I see her regret when she has said or done the wrong thing. I see her too proud to say I’m sorry and I see her pride when she sees what we have accomplished.
I see her up late at night waiting for us to arrive home. I see her when she worried about the choices we were making. I see her folding laundry while my sister and I told her about our day. I see her when I would lay my head in her lap weeping over some sadness or some dumb boy and feel those hands caressing my head while she told me how amazing I was and that everything would be ok.
Now, as time rushes by and each day becomes more precious than the last, I see her as someone that needs me as much as I need her. I trace those wrinkles and hope that I can trace them again tomorrow. I see those wrinkles and wonder if I will ever know the tale of each wrinkle or how it got there. While to her each wrinkle proves she is old to me each wrinkle tells a story. Each wrinkle holds a lesson. If we could touch the wrinkle and go back in time we could see if they were created by laughter, tears, worry, fears or joy, pride, relief and happiness. Now, facing my own aging battles, what I do know…what I am sure of…is that each wrinkle holds the love of a mother locked deep inside.