The old lady leans over to coo the baby. Her eyes are bright with the joy of coddling the infant. She is old, and has a knotted old face with a large bulbous nose. Her hair is short but wild. It’s a wrinkled, sweet old face. Her smile makes her seem so much younger than she is. I love her immediately.
It makes me sad to see her too, though. The old and weak, banished to the flanks, culled from the herd. She is a beautiful woman and all I want to do is rush over to her and ask if I might have a picture with her sweet, weathered old face. The fear that she might think I’m making fun of her makes me sit in my seat, daring myself to walk over to her. I just can’t do it. Maybe I’m a coward.
The thought of getting older terrifies me because I’m so old already and I feel like I’ve barely lived. If I think about it too much it’s enough to make me gasp for air. Shivers run up and down my spine and suddenly I’m so sweaty.
Old ladies love babies. They smile and laugh at them, and touch their precious little hands as if they could hold on to that youth forever. I wonder if it’s because they know that death is just around the corner waiting to greet them. It’s a grim thought, and grimmer still because I know that one day I’ll wake up and I’ll be that old woman. I’ll be sitting in the mall enjoying a burger and I’ll lean over to the mother who’s too busy talking to her friend to notice that I’m there, and I’ll engage the baby and it will bring tears to my eyes to see such a sweet little bald-headed darling. The mother will notice me, and immediately think I’m a crazy old lady, but will indulgently answer when I ask about the baby’s age.
From across the mall, a 30-something year old mother will watch the situation play out, with her own darling son by her side, and it will bring tears to her eyes.
How can anyone stand the prospect of getting older? With age comes wisdom, but also regret. Mostly for a life not lived to its fullest. What a horrible thing to think, that if I died, I wouldn’t have lived as full a life as I could or should have.
I don’t want to get old. I don’t want to die a long, slow, aging, painful death. I don’t want to wake up every day and wonder about all the things I could have done differently to change the direction my life went. Fleeting thoughts now that I fear may grown into huge what-if’s when I’m old and senile.
I’m so happy with my life, my family, the little children that I created as if from thin air and physically brought into this world with blood, sweat, and tears. I love them fiercely, with great pride, and adulation. It’s a huge accomplishment, one that I am very grateful for.
What if, though? What if I had gone to Montreal instead of going to college, like I had originally planned? What if I had travled first, instead of having children? What if I had moved across the country when I had the chance? (Did I ever really have that chance, though, or was it just a fleeting wish?)
That’s why I love old people faces. I love the history etched into every wrinkle. It endears them to my heart, and it always makes me wonder, “how did you end up here, with a walker, eating an A&W burger at the mall?” Also, what have you seen? What have you experienced in your vast life? Did you love? Did you lose your heart? Have you seen wonderful and amazing things? I always want to know!
Even though the thought of getting old terrifies me, I would love to know the history of every wrinkle in an old lady’s face, every old man’s grimace. I love them.