Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Mom-Mom

I remember one day, probably when I was around seven or eight, sitting at my grandparents house eating lunch with the whole family. It was probably one of those summer work days when we had decided to go up and help them with chores.

I remember sitting on the stoop that goes into their family room. Maybe because I was younger I just wasn't listening to the conversation, because I don't remember anything they said that day. Thinking back now, it almost seems like everyone else was muted, excepted my vivid memory of what I saw. Looking across from me on the wall were pictures of all my greatest grandparents....all hung in black and white portraits. There was a side for my Pop-Pops' family and a side for my Mom-Moms'. In the middle was a picture of two people I thought I didn't know.

The first portrait was hued like it was covered in dust. The man inside had a long face. No, not sad; just long. He seemed very stable and steady. His colorless eyes looked as if they held all the kindness of the world in them, and yet, it was a kind of strength, too. His hair was neatly cut and combed. He was dressed in a fine suit, even though the photo covered him from the chest up. He was the very idea of what one might use to precisely describe the ideal gentleman. He was handsome.

The second portrait was shaded almost with a pink tone, as if the person inside had been radiant and the photograph was able to capture the gleam. The woman inside had an oval face, a subtle smile with easily seen dimples on either side of her cheeks. That smile shone with something akin to the Mona Lisa, as if she knew something that you didn't. Her skin looked like porcelain, almost like if one were able to place their hand inside the portrait to touch her they would feel silk. Her dark hair was simply, yet elegantly displaying a short bob that settled on top of her shoulders. Like the man, the photo cut off and contained only a small portion of her upper body , but just enough to show that she was wearing a white, clean cut suit; something typical of the 1940's. She looked like the perfect example of what and who a lady should be. She was beautiful.

Somehow in my mind that day, I knew that they were my grandparents. At the same time, however, I couldn't seem to make the connection.

A few years ago, when I was sitting in the exact same spot as when I was seven. It hit me.

I can't tell you in words how hard it was for me to even begin to compare the slouched figures on the chair and couch opposite me to the glamourous youth in the portrait. In one instant, though, I saw it. Unveiled underneath the wrinkled, gray and drooping skin of old age were the same smiles and the same eyes that I remember seeing when I was eight. They were still so beautiful. It's incredible, but honestly, they are still so stunning.

Most people would tend to look at my grandparents, and many older people, as if they weren't even humans at all. Somehow, younger people are almost scared of older people; something that I cannot understand. Often, elderly aren't even acknowledged, as if they are invisible. Understandably, they are often decrepid, disfigured, gray skinned, wrinkled, hunched over beings who often have clouded eyes, bad hearing and occasionally (if not always) slurr their words - or so we have labled them. Since they are "presented" in this way, they are often completely ignored. I think that those things are unappealing to the human eye, are honestly, so incredibly beautiful. It speaks so much more than a drop dead gorgeous girl that you see in the store, or a herculian looking guy in the gym.

Why do I think that is beautiful? I think it's beautiful because they have lived. They have lived a whole life chock-full of lovely memories as well as dreadful memories, and they are still OK. Does that make sense? They have fullfilled a life. They came into this world as babies, grew into a young man and woman, were lovers, husband and wife, uncle and aunt, father and mother, grandfather and grandmother, great-grandfather and great-grandmother. They have been haggard by years, but that's what I love the most about them. Those wrinkles just prove how much they have lived. How can that not be beautiful? How can life not be beautiful. Life may not contain perfectly perfect memories, but it still contains memories - isn't that enough?


"Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."
Mark Twain

I love watching my grandmother. I love imagining how she would have been were she in her twenties. If I let my mind wonder enough, I can see exactly who she was when she was twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, and I know with all my heart that she was beautiful; because she was the same person then as she is now. She amazes me. She's ninety years old. She lived through the Great Depression, World War II.....she lived through life. She's my heroine. She's my Mom-Mom.

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