Looking Back through a mirror
Standing in the hallway adjusting my scarf, a figure passed behind me, a tall handsome young man. I caught my own eye in the mirror and paused, transfixed, as I realised that this tall dark stranger was my baby. Wasn’t it only yesterday I was walking him to school? When did he develop those wide shoulders. Is that a moustache? He’s a foot taller than me. What else have I missed? All those girls calling here, girl-friends !! I thought they were his mates’ sisters. I should have noticed; I don’t have to wash behind his ears anymore.
Where have all the years gone? I stare at my face in the mirror, stunned, who is this old woman looking out at me, lined face, grey hair; it can’t be me, surely. When did this happen? I don’t feel old, I have dreams, I have plans, have I got time to fulfil them. I look back down the years and am amazed to realise I’ve been married for thirty-three years. I could swear it was only a couple of years ago that Bill and I used to sneak up bray head and lay the blanket on the ground. Does he look as old as me? I don’t think I can live with an old man. How did I get trapped in this old body?
The mirror turns into a kaleidoscope of memories before my eyes. I’m back in my childhood home. I’m sixteen, I’m arguing with one of my sisters over whose turn it is to use the bath-room. Now I’m twenty-one, it’s my birthday party; daddy has invited the whole town. I get sixteen slip and knickers sets as presents.
Suddenly I’m walking down the aisle, there’s a handsome young man waiting at the altar for me, he looks familiar, it’s my dark-haired husband. Now we’re both looking at a beautiful baby girl, this is the mother of two of our grand-children! My eyes fill with tears as I gaze into my past. Now I’m seeing a parade of beloved faces that can only be seen in memory. I see my beloved father, beloved aunts and uncles. And I’m holding my beloved son Stephen, who died in infancy in my arms again. All the christenings, weddings and funerals in my extended family take their turn in my mind. They were so full of laughter, tears, more laughter.
Sometimes I think that memory is God’s greatest gift, a smell, a song, sometimes only a word can take you back to happy times spent with someone you have loved and lost. We had such plans when we married, Bill and I, what happened to them? We would travel abroad when the children were grown. How come we didn’t notice it was time to go. What else did we plan? My god! I can’t even remember our dreams, did any of them come true.
I always wanted to become a mid-wife when the children were older, it would be time to retire by the time I qualified now. Does Bill still have dreams unfulfilled, and does he blame me if he has. Are we too old now to have new dreams? Will they disappear in a flash just like our old dreams? Or will time slow down enough for us to see something happen in slow motion before we really are too old to care. I come back to the present, with a start, to find myself still standing in the hall, my son long gone.
I’m staring at this mature, wise, distinguished looking, handsome face. Yes, this is, me warts and all. Why should I resent these lines on my face, they are badges of honour. They show every laugh, every tear. They are proof that I have lived. True, I might not have done everything I intended to do with my life, but god knows, I have helped to create two generations who may outdo everything I ever dreamed of, and who may, one day see me in a mirror as a treasured memory.