“Looking in the Mirror,” Nov. 9, 2021

Lately, I find myself staring at a face in the mirror and asking:

1. Who are you?

2. Why do you look like that?

3. What have you done with the woman I used to be?

Here are my usual answers:

1. I am the same person I’ve always been, just a bit older, and due to the pandemic, maybe a few pounds heavier.

2. I look this way because I have a white stripe on my head that makes me look like a skunk. At the start of the pandemic, I tried to go totally gray, but couldn’t abide the stripe. So I keep coloring. And the stripe keeps coming back.

3. I’ve done little or nothing for or with the woman I used to be, because basically, life as I once knew it stopped.

Yes, for what felt like forever, I stopped seeing most of my family and friends, stopped going to the market (we had groceries delivered) and just, more or less, stayed home like a prisoner under house arrest.

Did life seem to stop for you, too? I think it did for most of us. I want to believe that it’s coming back in full glory. But it’s hard to know, isn’t it? Information seems to change day to day.

So instead of relying on what I might hear, I rely on things I trust to be true and have learned to count on in all my years. Never mind how many years. For example:

I put great trust in sunsets. I’d probably trust in sunrises, too, if I ever woke up in time to see one. But I’m a late-to-bed, late-to-rise kind of person. So sunsets are my thing. My husband and I sit outside most evenings to watch the sun go down, the moon come up and the stars fill the sky.

I wish you could see it.

I hope you can. I hope you see it often, wherever you may be.

It’s easier, I think, to trust in the future when we realize that the sun seems to know things we might forget, and it keeps rising and setting, rain or shine, to celebrate life twice every day.

Also, I trust people. Real people, neighbors and friends. You should trust them, too. In the hardest of times, it’s a gift to see good people rise up—not because they have great wealth, but because they have great hearts—to help others in need.

Have you noticed lately what your friends and neighbors are doing? Look around you. It will open your eyes and your heart.

Most of all, I trust in a power that always holds, like the old song says, “the whole world in his hands.” As a child, my blind brother would quiet his fears by singing himself to sleep. That song was one of his favorites. It’s one of mine, too.

Finally, I’m learning to trust, not in what I see in the mirror, but in what I feel in my soul. I know I’m getting older. I don’t need a mirror to tell me. My knees won’t let me forget.

I spend as much time as possible with my grandkids, laughing at their jokes, watching them turn cartwheels the way I did a lifetime ago, and telling them stories from “the old days.”

I would also spend time with people my age, but they’re all busy spending time with their grandkids. Or going to see doctors. Or looking for their glasses. Or trying to remember what they dropped on the floor and what else they ought to look for while they’re down there.

I know that’s how they spend their time because it’s how I spend mine, too. When I’m not making peanutbutter cookies.

I think most of us are just hoping to survive this pandemic and pass on to our children and grandchildren a few important things we’ve learned, such as:

_ Times get hard, but they get better. We help ourselves, but at our best, we help each other.

_ Failure isn’t falling down. It’s falling down and failing to get back up and try again.

_ Mirrors might tell us how old we look, but it’s what we see in the eyes of those we love that tells us how much we mean.

Maybe I’ll stop looking in the mirror. After I color my roots.

Comments

  1. Emily Hull-Parsons says:

    Love you and all your columns. You see the everyday and articulate it perfectly! I’ve cried and I’ve laughed with you.
    Keep sharing your thoughts. They bring us together. Emily

  2. Sherry Winkle says:

    Sharon, you seem to nail it each week. I love your honesty and relatability. Thank you for reminding all of us at this special season of the year that God has the whole world in His hands. We are better people because of our willingness to reach out and help others and share our own challenges and the gift of His mercy and grace. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  3. Sally Brown says:

    All I can say is that I love you! If you lived in Winston-Salem, you’d be one of my BFF’s. Almost every column ( but especially today), you seem to take my feelings and put them into word! Stay well… and keep writing!

  4. Steve says:

    Always enjoy your Column from up here in the San Fran Bay area. We didn’t let time for us stop totally, doing our own shopping while masking up from the beginning, even with me now being 72, no one is picking out our produce and meat, LOL. While our younger 40s something Son & Daughter In law have everything delivered, including one time, Baskin & Robbins Ice Cream, imagine, either the laziness, or just plain being scared, mostly they are just too busy. And we are fully vaccinated, booster too, yet masking up once again while grocery shopping, etc. which we will be once again doing tomorrow :-). Oh we did have restaurant fare, Pizza, one time KFC, even McRibs (Me, Wife ordered something else), and one or two other deliveries made :-). Just did not feel like going out for take out, except for our nearby Chinese food.

  5. Terry says:

    My own Nana was a very special person in my life. She was beautiful to me ..always. Today you reminded me her beauty came from the love we had for each other..I was her favorite and she was mine. With three beautiful granddaughters of my own. I see the love I have for them reflected back at me with every smile, hug, and finger grab. I know I learned about being a Nana from an expert. I hope I am making her proud! God is so good. I am so Blessed!
    Thank you for another great story.

  6. Kate Sciacca says:

    So here you are coloring … and here I am frustrated that I’ve nary a grey or silver hair. Grannies are supposed to have gorgeous silver locks… not me… 65 and dirty brown… ugh.

    Life changed some during Covid… couldn’t volunteer at the school the youngest boys had attended (they graduated a while back, but I still volunteered… such a lovable faculty… why not???). Couldn’t go to daily Mass because apparently worshipping God was considered “non-essential”. (Was way too blessed to attend on Sundays… because a dear friend of 29 years who pastors a small mountain parish believed worshiping God WAS essential). Went grocery shopping for entertainment and headed over the hill in those early months to deliver TP, children’s Tylenol and a few other necessities to the kids and grands…..They were NOT going “without” if grandma could help 😉. Lived by the inaugural words of the JP2 Pontificate…. “Be Not Afraid!” Got Covid in early September and went wild with the supplements…. Got over it. You are so right… times get hard but they get better… and helping one another is fantastic medicine.

    Today there was a horrific accident at a major intersection in town – one that I cross several times a week… two fatalities so far, may be more. We never know the “day or the hour!” Our Blessed Lord does….

  7. Sandy Wilson says:

    Your stories feel like stories I could be writing! I recently moved and for several weeks I didn’t have a mirror in my bathroom. I had to find the perfect one!! I did find it was kind of nice not looking into that mirror every time I was in there!!😃

  8. Katie says:

    Bingo…grandkids/great grandkids are where it’s at. Forget how you’ve aged. Enjoy those smile lines put there by you oh so dear little ones. My great granddaughter is just learning to crawl and trying to walk. That’s joy in life!

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