My granddaughter Nora continues to catalyze new perspectives for me. One reason is that, except for a few vivid memories, I have very little recollection of my mother or my grandmothers. I have no idea what life is like growing up with those role models. It is from that place I share this little story.
Nora has a fascination with photos. These days they are aplenty with my cell camera always at hand. I take many of her. And when we take selfies of the two of us, I sometimes feel self-conscious looking at them. It makes me realize, seeing my aged appearance next to her youthful glow, how graced I always am to be looking into her beautiful bright face while she has to look at my old one.
On this particular day, we were looking at old photos of all kinds. I showed her a photo of me taken years earlier. I love how I look in the photo. Perhaps you’ve also had that experience? I like how my face radiates the absence of the life and strife I had not yet lived. I was a slim figure, my face smooth, line-and-sag-free, eyes bright. At the time it was taken, I probably hated the photo, ever judging myself too harshly. But now, through the eyes of my more advanced-age, I love and mourn the image at the same time.
Nora took hold of the photo, studying it intently for several seconds and then dismissing it, she handed it back to me. “I don’t like your face that way,” she declared.
What a shock. “You don’t?” I asked. This reaction was unfathomable to me. Who would not immediately choose my picture of youth when compared to the now time-worn face of my age?
As quickly as I had the thought, she had moved on to the next photo, her comment lost to any query.
Later that evening, I recounted the exchange to Wade. He wasn’t surprised. He said he remembered in his youth having had the same reaction when looking at early photos of his grandmothers. Those were not the faces of the women he knew and loved. I was flooded with appreciation and so touched. What a gift, the opportunity to see me from her perspective.