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Brave Face

Brave Face

There is a video I have become addicted to. In it, four women have gathered to reminisce about their lives, careers and men. But before they even begin to speak, it is evident that they have stories to tell.


Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright, all Dames in the royal sense of the word, have decades of living behind them and it shows. They have the laugh lines and wondrous wrinkles one would expect to have at a certain age. I gaze at their faces and it is as if I am reading a deeply moving novel. I know there are fewer blank pages left to fill but fill them they will.


Each of the women have a few extra pounds, and I am happy to imagine that when given an opportunity to enjoy a good meal or a cocktail they say yes and savor the experience. They say yes to life.


They are beautiful. They wear age like a badge of pride.

Look how long I have been on this planet! Imagine what I have seen! What I have learned! What I have done!


The other evening I had dinner with friends. Most of us are in our 60's. Before heading to the restaurant I looked in the mirror and was not all that pleased with the woman looking back. I am on the cusp of 70. Grey hair heading to white. Glasses, because who can read a menu without them anymore? Lines and creases everywhere.


I know I am not supposed to be bothered by the signs of aging. I give it my best, I really do. But then I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the storefront window as I walk down the street and I see what the world sees and I cringe. Then remember that along with the sagging skin and thinning hair comes the gift of invisibility. No one is looking.


Then I feel better.


Oh, I know that I could have some "work" done if I chose. And there is nothing wrong with that. So far though, I have avoided looking into it. I don't know if I am confident in my aging, or just too lazy to do anything about it.


A few weeks ago I was lying in bed with my four-year-old grandson and he was patting my arm when all of a sudden he declared, "weird skin, Mimi!"


I could only agree. And be grateful for sleeves.


So my friends and I met for dinner. We were meeting the new girlfriend of one of the men for the first time. A lovely young woman who had just turned 27. Twenty-seven. Two Seven. Oh!

We were seated at a round table. There was candlelight. There was laughter. There was tequila, thank god.


I sat back and took in the view. Each of the men were mostly bald. The small amount of hair growing has given up on color. Their faces hinted at stories worth telling. Worth listening to.


Our young companion was beautiful. Her hair dark, her skin unlined. Her smile quick and eyes bright. She has so many blank pages to fill. Her future sprawled out in front of her like a long and winding road. She will, someday, acquire the creases and lines and gray hair and extra pounds that will show she has lived a life. That she has depth and experience.


I wish I could know her then, to hear how her life unfolded.


I climbed into bed later that night and queued up the Dames once more and marveled at their spirit, their joy, their beauty.



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