As I lay on my bed with four-year old Madelyn, we gazed lovingly into each other’s face. I looked deep into her eyes with a love that only a grandmother can understand. I was overcome with awe and the power of a Lord who allows me to be so blessed with a beautiful family created out of the love that Don and I have for each other. That love and our awesome God created a beautiful little girl. She took that love and went on to create another beautiful little girl. And here we lay, gazing lovingly into each other’s faces.
“Yes, dear.” I smiled back, thinking what a wonderful moment we were sharing.
“You’re face is getting a little old.”
Okay. Back to reality.
“Why do you say that?”
Madelyn grabbed my hand and said, “See your face looks like the back of your hand.”
Sorry I asked.
Yes Madelyn. Grandma’s face is getting a little old. See this wrinkle here, right under my left eye. The one that is just a little more pronounced than the others? That is no wrinkle at all.
When I was a very little girl, not much older than you, I accompanied my mother on a shopping trip. The beautiful dresses, with their long swaying fabric, hung from the rack all the way to the floor. A small girl like me could go under the dresses inside the rack and hide. I jumped up to the rack and hung by my arms, just like the dresses, and with my legs I pushed myself back and forth so I swayed like the fabric. And then as every mother would predict, I fell, catching the corner of my eye on the base of the rack. Our shopping trip abruptly ended, as we left for the emergency room and a couple of stitches to the corner of my eye. That is no wrinkle. That is the curiosity of a bright young girl, just like you.
See these wrinkles around my eyes. Those aren’t really wrinkles. When I was a young woman, eager to fall in love and full of romantic notions, I met a very handsome young man, a dark-haired fox we liked to call him. His name was Don and I sat on the steps of the front of the school reading my Romeo and Juliet English lesson, waiting for him to come outside. Eventually he came outside, noticed my reading and suggested we study together. I asked him if he would like to accompany me to my band picnic. He did! We went to Encanto Park and after a day of picnicking and canoeing in the canals, we shared our first kiss. As I smile now remembering it, I can feel the corners of my eyes turn. Yes, dear Madelyn, grandma’s eyes get all squinty remembering the laughter we shared. Four years later, we went back to Encanto Park where your Papa proposed. It has now been 35 years or more since that day on the front porch of the school and your Papa still makes my eyes sparkle and the corners crinkle. Those aren’t wrinkles Madelyn; those are the marks of love, from young romantic love to a content, satisfied love. Those are the marks of a lifetime of shared love and laughter.
See these wrinkles around my mouth? Those aren’t wrinkles at all. When your mother was just a baby of less than two years, she too was full of youthful curiosity. She climbed up onto the hearthstone of our brick fireplace and tried to balance and walk across. She made it about halfway before falling and splitting her face open under her eye. As I waited in the emergency room with my tearful, bleeding baby girl, I pursed my lips together in worry. This of course, was only the first of many times I pursed my lips together as Candice, Matt, Dan and Megan spread their wings, learning to fly and sometimes falling. These aren’t wrinkles Madelyn. These are a mother’s concern and care for her little ones as they grow up.
See this one in the middle of my forehead? You can only see it when my forehead is scrunched in an almost frown. It is rare, but pronounced when it comes together. That is not a wrinkle. When your great grandpa Hill passed on to heaven, when your great grandpa Briese was lost unexpectedly, these were times of deep sorrow. The tears flowed and the brow furrowed as I struggled to come to terms with loss of those who were the strong leaders of our family, those who made us feel safe. That torch had now passed and that awesome responsibility at times brings my forehead together in deep thought.
The trend today for youth is to tattoo their bodies, leaving a permanent symbol to reflect their uniqueness, their individualism. Some choose foreign symbols to represent a value or character they deem important.
I have nature’s tattoos. These aren’t wrinkles at all, but the badges of my life; the curiosity, the happiness, the worry, the loss, the laughter, the care and the love. A life lived fully with passion and integrity, each wrinkle is a reminder of a life richly blessed. I have earned each of these” wrinkles” and I wear them with pride. Yes Madelyn, in a world obsessed with surface looks and to a young eye, I am starting to look old.
My prayer is that as you grow you will learn to look beyond the surface and see the inner beauty in yourself foremost and in others as well. I know you will. You have a great God and a good mother. And someday my dear, I pray you have your own wrinkles to commemorate your life and loves as you raise my great-grandchildren and future generations.