Faces in the Mirror

Posted: July 18, 2014 in World On The Edge

Beautiful young woman with cocktail looking through a restaurant window.I don’t look forward to old age. Yet I know it’s a stage   that  comes for everyone who inhabits a  long life.

My grandmother lived to be nearly one hundred.  I loved her dearly, as well as my grandfather, for all the many years I knew them. My family lived in my grandparents house until I was five years old. To say that they were influential is an understatement.  They were crucial to each of us.

My grandfather worked his way out of the Great Depression and became  Executive Vice President for the Bay Line Railroad. I’m named after him.  His name was Kenneth Shealy,  but at the railroad he was simply called Mister K.  He was a tall man with a crooked smile, like mine. He was quiet and generous to a fault.  I remember Christmas mornings in my grandparents house when porters from the Bay Line inevitably appeared at the back door with their greeting to him.  “Just wanted to wish ya’ll Merry Christmas, Mr. K.” And my grandfather would have ready in his pocket a ten dollar bill for each. Just one of many examples.

My grandmother, Ethel, could do anything–really! And she ‘ruled the roost.’ She had marvelous ‘good sense’ and compassion.  There were not many times either of my parents disputed anything she said. Both of my grandparents were readers. On their bookcase in the living room were the classics they loved. Among them were Aesop, Grimm, and Andersen; Cervantes, Dana, and Defoe;  Poe and the Bronte sisters, and an old set of encyclopedias called The Books of Knowledge.

When I see aged people, I see my grandparents in them. People who led good and caring lives. And I know that one day I will look in the mirror and see myself as old. I may even say, as I heard my grandmother say, “Oh, that can’t be me!”

There is a textured story, though, in the face of every elderly person. We cannot possibly know the intricacies of their story, but we can appreciate them for the  lives they lived. And we can hope that one day the story of our life will be appreciated, and maybe even influential, in the mirrored memory of someone we care about.

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