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A wrinkle in time

When exactly I singed off a half-row of lashes above my left eye I cannot say. The only reason I’m in possession of that information now is a Zadro 10x Magnifying Max Bright Sunlight Vanity Mirror I received for Christmas. In the glare of its light of truth, there are no secrets. There are only things to be removed, tweezed or concealed. Or in the case of singed eyelashes, accepted.

I should clarify at this point that in spite of advice I’ve given male readers in the past about avoiding the purchase of gifts that must be plugged in, I actually asked for this mirror – so that made it okay for my husband to give me something with a cord. Unfortunately for him, now that I can see what I’ve been missing, it takes me longer to get ready. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what he was hoping.

Some mornings, as I’m dragging my wicker stool up to the bathroom counter, I am reminded of a phrase a young Boy Scout once shared with me. He said it worked to motivate his fellow adventurers on a particularly challenging hike: “I don’t know about you babies, but I’m going man.”

Going man. Yes, tough climbs and magnification to the 10th degree are not for the faint of heart. This hot seat is the sphere of the real, fully-illuminating everything those Mary Kay reps ever warned about, including summers spent having fun in the sun, greased up like a piece of bacon, back in the ‘80s. And that nasty habit of raising my eye brows every time the kids gave cause. Oh, well, maybe some bangs will help.

I’ve noticed that what time and gravity conspire together to give as birthday presents we tend to give cute names like crows’ feet and laugh lines. The people who coined those terms are probably the same ones who are too young to know better and write things like “Older is beautiful. I want some wrinkles,” in magazine articles. Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, on the other hand, don’t seem nearly so naïve. Try this image from “A Worn Path”:

“Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood in the middle of her forehead.”

We certainly can’t accuse Miss Welty of sugarcoating the issue.

Last month I stood over the open casket of my 96-year-old aunt. Her face had the expected ridges and grooves, but what caught my attention were her hands, soft and smooth, serenely folded. Even her nails were done.

“Yes, I know,” her daughter nodded, when I mentioned their pristine appearance. She went on to point out how misleading that fresh manicure really was. “When Mother was young, she had a baby at her breast and two more at her feet while hoeing cotton in the fields every day. She raised nine children and took care of my bedridden father for years. If ever there was proof that hard work won’t kill you, there it is,” my cousin finished, motioning toward her mother’s now-still body, wrinkles and all, laid out among the funeral wreaths.

In such a setting, it’s almost easy to believe that laugh lines and crows’ feet can be beautiful. When stories of self-sacrifice and devotion to family are etched in each crease, what else could they be?  And that’s why, in spite of all our offensive tactics, a face should wrinkle, I suppose. But here’s the kicker: only God (not the Zadro 10x Magnifying Max Bright Sunlight Vanity Mirror) knows which lines are the well-earned marks of true maturity, and which — as a result of the summer of ’82 — are not.

Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.