Old people. There’s no getting away from them anymore. The world is overrun with them these days. I look at their faces noting the lines and wrinkles, blemishes, spots, markings. Their faces show up everywhere I go. They populate group meetings, writing workshops, supervisors meetings at work and the personal ads on the online websites I frequent. And of course there is that particular squinting, gray haired, old face that stares at me from the mirror above the dresser in my bedroom.
On the edge of that mirror, I have pasted photographs from many stages of my life. Cute pictures of me with fluffy brown hair, smiles with soft dimples on a smooth face. They are familiar and comforting pictures. Unlike the frowning, wrinkly, chubby face I see in the middle of the mirror now. A face hardly visible without my glasses.
These days every situation comedy on TV has an old person to laugh at. There are the Mr. Magoo type jokes about old people walking in exits and out entrances and bumping into things with cars, shopping carts or their walkers. There are the sexual jokes that make young people squirm at the very thought of flabby old bodies rubbing up against each other.
I hear a lot of old people jokes made by those around me. I could get insulted. I have been told that people feel free to make those old folks jokes around me because they don’t consider me old. Today a teenager said, “There are only two kinds of old people those that talk too softly and those that talk too loud”. “Which one am I?” I asked and everyone else laughed.
I am trying to cultivate a love for old faces. I am trying to see beauty in the life experience manifested there. I’d like to take up sculpting and create out of clay a lovely, warm and gentle face full of lines and crevices that radiate an inner beauty, a joy in the living of a long life. Perhaps the grace in aging can be found in art before it can be found in life.
Madlynn Haber is a writer in Northhampton, MA and has been published in the anthologies Letters from Daughters to Fathers and Word of Mouth Volume Two and in Anchor Magazine