A couple of posts ago I wrote the following:
I have a photograph of her, at age, looking at a photo of herself when she was young and beautiful. It hits my heart every time I see it. It is a reminder of what time does to us all and what it did to her, in particular. She was not happy during her last years and I, personally, suffered greatly for it. But I prefer to remember her when she was young and laughing.
I was speaking, of course, of my mother.
At first I could not find the photograph I mentioned and I had to go digging through boxes in the storage room. This morning I finally found it. I post it here with some trepidation - as though I am being disrespectful, somehow, of her privacy even though she passed away some 10+ years ago. And yet I feel a strong urge to do it because everyone should know when they see an old woman who is losing most of her hair, or an old man struggling to get in or out of a car - or struggling just to walk and getting into the way of those of us who are not yet quite so infirm - that it is only a matter of time before we will find ourselves exactly where they are.
It seems like a long time to us when we are young. But it is not long at all. As the years go by they go by faster and faster until one day we wake up, look into the mirror, and wonder where it all went. Time is relentless and does not stop for us no matter how rich or important we are. No matter how poor we are. It just continues to march forward just as it did for those old people you see today. Just as it did for my mother.
Here is the photo of my mother studying a photograph of herself when she was young and beautiful:
I'm not sure what she is holding. She may have been going through some old papers when she came upon the photograph. The way she is holding her left hand to her lips and chin - as though in complete concentration as she studies that young woman in the photo - is very telling...and moving, I think.
She was getting quite thin of hair and she worried about it constantly. She was bent, now, with osteoporosis and experienced a lot of pain. She did not delude herself that she was young anymore, but she still cared. Perhaps the photo of when she was young will explain why:
This is the photo she is so intently examining. Frankly, I doubt there was a movie star living at that time who was more beautiful.
I was so lucky to have my camera at the ready on that day, in that room, at that minute. So very lucky. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments.
If I have learned nothing else in all my years of living I have learned that inside every old person is the same young person they used to be - at all the ages they used to be. The same yearnings. The same dreams -- unfulfilled, perhaps, but still there.
And we will all follow along behind them - because time doesn't stop for any of us.