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.
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!