My Grandmother’s Reflection

Sarah - Estero, Florida
Entered on October 28, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe that I see myself most clearly through the eyes of those I love.

I recently flew with my husband and son from Florida to my hometown in Pennsylvania to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday.

After we landed, we rode the train through the airport, toward the exit. As we left the train, I caught our reflection in the dark glass. I had on a knee length pencil skirt and high heels. My husband is tall and broad. He wore a leather coat and carried all of the bags while I held my son’s small outstretched hand. I felt blessed, timeless, like an archetype.

I looked, I thought, like a photo of my grandma from the 1950’s, wearing the high heels she loved so much. She continued to wear three inch heels to do housework, even after she quit working. When I asked her how she managed to scrub in heels, she protested, “They were good shoes. I didn’t want to waste them.” And then, with a mischievous gleam, she said, “I loved high heels. It’s hard to believe that my feet were a size AAA narrow.” She tells me to wear high heels and enjoy them.

What my grandmother is really telling me is to catch that moment in the glass and hold it in my hand for as long as I can. She’ll never tell me that happiness is fleeting. She’ll never tell me not to say things I’ll regret. She’ll never tell me not to let the moment pass me by while I’m distracted by the petty nonsense life throws at all of us. She would never tell me those things because she knows I know them already, on a certain innocent, ignorant level. But she won’t shatter my illusions because she needs that image in the glass, too.

When I call her, she says that she wishes she had my energy. I tell her that I wish I had time to take a nap. We agree to live vicariously through one another.

I believe that when I see myself in the mirror, the best of her smiles back at me, ignores my flaws, and sees only the best in me. I hope that when she sees herself in the mirror, she catches the gleam in her eye that inspires me to try and have it all. While wearing three inch heels.

Sometimes we see what we need to see. And that’s okay. This, I believe.