How is this boomer’s face in the mirror?

As baby boomers, we all go through what Sherrill Pool Elizondo has been going through: watching age put its stamp on the face in the mirror. As Sherrill writes from her home in Cypress, Texas, it’s an inevitable process. So it’s all in how you look at it.

If I were to do an inventory of my home of 38 years, I would get a grip on what should be thrown out, given away, or kept. The older I become, the more difficult it is for me to make these decisions.

I attempted making a list of personal items that I would like each of my sons to have (not that they wouldn’t get rid of them after I am gone) and have started thinking about items to bequeath to grandchildren. I believe I know which son would be happy to acquire books, which son would gladly be the custodian of genealogy records and old pictures of ancestors, and which son — or sons — might like certain art or their father’s photography, or a special piece of furniture.

Sherrill Pool Elizondo

There are three things that come to mind, aside from the dress I wore when I married (which no one would want). They are things I find laughable to even consider keeping. One is a heating pad that I have had since I was a teenager; it followed me to college and marriage. If you have to ask why, you are not female. Lately it has come in handy for backaches!

I’ve also kept a portable manual typewriter that I used in college, and when my children were very young, I used it to type stories when I thought I could become a writer. It sat in a closet for years, as did other unused keepsakes like my mother’s winter fur collared coat and my husband’s father’s overcoat. All are possessions my husband and I can’t seem to part with. I was ready to get rid of the typewriter during a remodeling of our home but my husband talked me out of it. It was a good thing because a nine-year-old granddaughter, who uses all the latest technology, became fascinated with typewriters. So I gave her mine. She was excited and banged away on it. Maybe she will become a famous author some day. She also inherited my 53-year-old ballet toe slippers.

My favorite relic is relegated to a cabinet in my bathroom. It’s a Clairol mirror. It is 55-years-old and still works. The lights have never burned out although it is rather worn looking. Like a light bulb that has burned for 117 years in a California firehouse, I feel the same way the firefighters at that station feel. I don’t want to be around when the light ultimately goes out. I was a young teenage girl when I was given this mirror I had so wanted. All I could see at the time was someone with ugly curly hair and possibly a new blemish to try to get rid of.

More often than not, I didn’t like the looks of that girl in the mirror in any light…day light, office light, or night light. Off to college and I started to like the appearance of the face in the mirror more. The mirror stood on the dresser of my dorm room and was used every day as I primped in front of it before classes or before a date. When I married, the face in the mirror finally seemed more acceptable to me.

The mirror moved to four homes — two apartments, two houses — and was my morning companion through changes in my face from three pregnancies, tiredness after being up half the night with a sick or crying infant, hormonal changes, life’s ups and downs … not unlike the teenage years, I guess.

Then came more changes with the face in the mirror. Wrinkles barely there but visible as I reached my 40s. The face of a young mother in the mirror became the face of a mother of teenagers which added frown and worry lines. Then I saw the face of a mother whose children graduate and leave home for college, the sad face, the smiling face, the anxious face, the Oh-My-God-what-comes-next face. The time arrived to put makeup on a maturing face in that lighted mirror for each son’s wedding. Then, oldest son tells me that I will become a grandmother?! Quickly I go and look in the mirror and slap myself for being vain, telling myself to get over it as I am old enough to be a grandmother. Still, my makeup mirror held up well. Maybe better than me.

After the remodeling, we decided we wanted no clutter in our beautiful bathroom. Now, not one toothbrush, or “chemicals” (as my husband refers to them), can be seen. He especially hated an old mirror we had on our vanity, so it was replaced with a new version and it’s the only item that sits out. Now I really do need the magnified side and sometimes this is downright scary.

Someone at a makeup counter said not EVER to use the magnified side except to apply makeup but, of course, she was a much younger woman. I still ask, who IS that person in the mirror? Lack of sleep shows more, worry and sadness shows more, but so do joy and happiness stare back at me. I have been wondering if my oldest granddaughter would like to have this mirror and if the old Clairol mirror would show my older face in a better light than the new one. Maybe I need to drag it out some time and try it… if I can only remember where I put it!

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17 Comments

  1. I laughed when I read your ‘face in the mirror’ piece Sherrill. I too have one of those horrible mirrors that magnify all of life’s tiny lines. Very enjoyable piece.

  2. Joan Bakewell wrote a book which I enjoyed. Stop the Clocks I think. In that she describes the problem of not being able to throw things away or dispose of them. I enjoyed reading and relaxing in to your article about the mirror .

    1. Thank you, Julie, for reading my story. Am happy that someone enjoyed it and got a laugh!

      Thank you, Judith. Glad that you enjoyed my story. The older I get the more difficult it seems to decide what to keep and what to dispose of!

  3. I still have my mirror, sitting unused in a corner of my bedroom. Downsized twice and purge occasionally, but that mirror remains in my possession. No question it will end up in the garbage when I am gone…

  4. Sherrill,
    I love this, so much I am relating to in my own life empty nest and grandkids and the typewriter. Priceless memories of a good, a great life and what we all go through as women, through having our babies and sleep deprivation and keeping the home fires burning and meals prepared and clothes clean and kids on time to wherever they need to be…it’s not for the faint at heart for sure. You so eloquently, as usual, tell a story in such a magnetic way. It pulls you in, and somewhere in there, we see ourselves in the mirror:) You are amazing… Keep it up!!! Lots of Appreciation!

    1. Lorna,
      Thank you so very much for taking time to make a comment! I am thrilled that the story pulled you in and that you and others have seen some of that similar face in the mirror as the years go by.

  5. I enjoyed this post. It also made me think about my mother and how I’m looking like her more and more as the years go by. I have her chin, her thin lips that would purse when she was thinking hard, and her nose with the small mole on the left side. I’m 61 and she’s been gone from us for a few years. But I can look in the mirror, in dim light with my head turned to the side slightly, and see her anytime I want!

    1. Thank you. I appreciate the comment. You must be grateful to know that you resemble your mother. Not everyone has a clear memory of their mother. You are most fortunate and obviously feel blessed that you have physical similarities.

  6. Sherrill, I totally relate, and since I’ve known you for close to 40 years, it’s was a riot to relate to much of this. I had a mirror just like that one, too. However, with all our moves, it went by the wayside years ago. What a great story…

    1. Thank you, Diane! Good to see your comment. I am glad that you read and enjoyed the story. We are STILL young…our children somehow got older.

  7. Loved this story. Although I never had a mirror like yours, there are always mirrors or store windows to remind me of the years that show on my face. Mostly I try to smile and that always makes me look younger, or so I think. I remember my mother remarking about a halĺ mirror and how she wiuld see herself in it as she passed by and would say with a shock, Who’s that ? Perhaps she felt young inside and so refused to pay attention to any power that hall mirror had.

    1. Thank you. The image in the mirror changes rapidly after a certain age and usually doesn’t match how much younger the person truly feels. Best to feel young at heart like your Mom probably did. Your comment was meaningful.

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