As I stood in the line at Marshall’s yesterday, waiting to make a return, my eyes were drawn to the older woman standing directly in front of me. It was her cheeks that captured my attention. They were full and drooped with age. Each cheek was covered in deep wrinkles, running in all different directions. Over the crevices, she had applied pink powdered rouge that sunk into each crease it had touched.
In that moment, a piece of my childhood came running directly towards me. And there I was, standing in my grandparents bathroom, watching Grandma Pearl get ready for her day. Primping her white, thin curls. Putting on her “smelly lotion.” (She called it that, and also claimed it was a must have for keeping the wrinkles away. I couldn’t bear to point out the truth.) Then she would apply her pink powdered makeup, using a soft brush to cover each cheek. She would end with a tube of lipstick that she smooth over her lips and then carefully rub them together. I see her smiling at me. I hear her saying, “Off to the races!”
There was nothing distinctly profound about this practice. But, as an adult, I am aware of how formative it was and how meaningful it is for me now. Standing with her in front of that mirror, watching her go through each motion. And here I was now, staring at a strangers cheek and it had so easily taken me back to so many years ago. And while I easily resisted the urge, I couldn’t help but long to reach out and kiss those cheeks, wishing that was Grandma Pearl standing at my side. Her deep love for me, and mine for her, so vivid in this moment.
I’ll be the first to admit I am an addict to this age of technology. Texting, Facebook, email, and more- all so convenient for connecting my very spread out world. Yet at the same time, sucking these very moments out of my day. I noticed, the other evening at my kids school Fall Fair, how I was taken up by my urge to photograph all their pumpkin creations. I was asking my kids to “stand there! wait a moment! I’ll be there in a sec! I’m trying to take a picture!!!” Um, let’s be honest, I may never look at those pumpkin pictures but once again in our lives. Why was that so important to me? Just going through the motions?
Remember those small stones I wrote about recently? They are ordinary moments that we enter into and capture using words and details. I long for more small stones. These seemingly ordinary stones that bring life into my run-of-the-mill acts of my day. Can I resist that picture? Can I look away from the text? It just isn’t easy for me.
But there I was, just standing in line yesterday. And because I happened to be paying attention in that moment, I received a gift. And instead of spending my time feeling guilty that I should be doing that more often, I will make attempts to be available more regularly for them. Open yourself up to receive that gift.
As the poet Mary Oliver says,
“Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.”