The older I’ve gotten (and I do attribute it to age), the more I’m prone to seeing people as they might look years from now. It’s like I create those time-altering “Have you seen me?” photos in my head — the photos on the back of junk mail postcards sent to help rescue missing children.
Walking past one of my ninth graders, I may catch a turn of the chin that makes me see her at fifty. It’s 2040 and she’s not in looks, having spread like fertilizer around a seed of trouble a parent may have carefully planted in her throughout the 1990′s. At a future reunion she sees Jerry, now stone-faced, long ago having forgotten emotions that “weren’t working for him,” as the kids say today.
Happily, it also seems to work in reverse. We spent a week this past summer in Tennessee with my in-laws, including Granny, Victoria’s eighty-seven-year-old maternal grandmother. Granny moves slowly but insists on going with us to relatives and to malls. She doesn’t hear very well anymore, even with hearing aids. But now and then her eye sparkles and she’s beautiful; she’s twenty-two or fifteen or thirty-seven or even eight.
Granny insists on cooking our favorite country dishes for our visits to her farm, including the sweet potato casserole that she makes just because I love it. When we’re not around, Granny tirelessly visits her contemporaries who don’t share her good health. She works in her garden and takes good care of her cat and dog. She dresses beautifully.
I’m not sure why it doesn’t feel right to say that age is hiding the young girl inside of her. It’s safe to say, though, that she’s fully alive.
Posted July 2005