By Debby Hudson
We were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. I chose one of our wedding photos and displayed it up on the screen in the chapel of the residential facility where my husband and I lead, teach, and pastor. We also share our life with the 100 men who live there.
These men saw my tears and heard my cracked voice and provided comfort for me when my mom was diagnosed with dementia. They’ve prayed with and for us when our parents died. They were named honorary uncles when we dedicated our granddaughter in this same chapel.
Of course, we were sharing this big anniversary with them, and I have a reputation as the one always taking photos. I had shared old photos before, but it had been awhile, and the newest group of residents hadn’t ever experienced these glimpses into our past.
Now my husband and I were up on the chapel screen, our faces youthful and smiling.
Then one of the men asked, “Who are those people?”
WHAT? Who are they? I’m standing right in front of you, and you don’t see that’s me?
I was in disbelief and hit with a whopping dose of reality.
Truth is, when I splash water on my face in the morning and look up in the mirror, I wonder who that person staring back at me is too.
My eyes are still brown – and – stop.
The skin at my jawline is a bit saggy, and my blonde locks are streaked with gray “highlights.” There are lines where none were yesterday. Well, it seems like yesterday.
And that’s just the top portion of my body!
Other physical changes aren’t as outwardly evident. Where I never had trouble sleeping before, I now have nights that mimic the sleep patterns of a newborn. Even with multifocal lenses, I increase the font size of whatever I’m reading.
It all makes me wonder how to navigate this ever-changing, often surprising body in a way that appears graceful.
Aging gracefully must mean not talking about these pesky changes. At least my female friends haven’t mentioned the challenge of breasts that have become what I can only politely describe as a “bosom.” Gravity will never be my friend again.
Maybe it’s because time spent with friends is too valuable to waste talking about these unwelcome changes of aging. Instead, we have grandbabies to remind us youth brings joy, while our grown children remind us that parenting never ends. So why spend time talking about the things we’d rather ignore?
I do wonder, though. Is it just me, or do other people find these crazy strands of hair that are corkscrew curly popping up? And what about my cheeks that redden and have fine bumps across them? The doctor says they are akin to cradle cap on a baby. At my age, I see a dermatologist more than I ever have. Red bumps that disappeared within days left a trail he said were deemed pre-cancerous. No doubt from the tan we all thought a mark of beauty in our teenage years.
At 61, I know changes will keep coming. (I just hope my sense of humor can keep up with them.) I admit feeling the sting when my younger face wasn’t recognized. I never wore lipstick in those days but my lips are nearly invisible without them today. Even with lipstick, I’m not recognized as the young woman in our wedding photos.
But I will also keep celebrating anniversaries and documenting new events with photos. I will keep remembering who I was and hope to meet the challenge to keep loving who I’m becoming.
Debby Hudson and her husband are ordained ministers working with men in a residential recovery program. Walking the beaches of South Florida restores their souls. Debby finds herself in many creative pursuits. She and her husband have two wonderful children and one granddaughter princess, none of whom they get to see often enough. Her photos are available at https://unsplash.com/@dhudson_creative. Follow Debby on her blog: debbyhudson.com; Twitter: @debby_hudson; or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debbyhudsoncreative.