Last week, as I leaned in to inspect what looked to be a newly forming pimple, but rather, turned out to be splotch of red dry skin, I realized that I had been leaning in to look at this same face for a very long time. I know this because my daughter Mary, who is so creepily like me in both looks and demeanor, spends an enormous amount of time looking in at herself. What she sees now is so completely different from what I see, but I know, from pictures, that what she sees is a face that looks very much like what I used to see, 37 years ago.
Several years ago, way back when we actually took film to be
processed, I was a regular at our local camera shop. Once the nice photo shop lady asked if the woman in the
pictures was my mother because she could certainly see the resemblance,
"you look just like her!". It was not my mother, it was my grandmother,
and I was complimented because I always thought that my grandmother was
beautiful. It was just recently that I realized, while shopping for
wrinkle creams and radiance booster serums, that I only met my
grandmother when she was 54 years old, much older than I was back when we still developed film. And
she was beautiful then, as she was at 87, when we said goodbye.
It has always fascinated me, when looking at pictures of my childhood, that the hand waving good-bye to my father from my 3 year old body is the exact same hand waving now, at my children, from my 45 year old body. It's larger, and full of spots; my knuckles are crinkly and skin saggy, but it's the same hand that once was so puffy and tiny. The same hand that used a blue crayon to scribble "Allyson" on the wall in the laundry room now squirts the 409 and tries to remove "Mary" from the wall in the living room. The same hands that wrote their way to a blue ribbon in creative writing now type out story after story on a machine barely conceived of back in those blue ribbon days.
The very same ones that held so tightly to my grandmother's perfectly manicured hands now wrap around Mary's small fingers, trying so hard to never let go. And those same hands hold her, just as they were once held, back when we saw ourselves through the lens of a Kodak Flip Flash.