I'm having technical difficulties tonight and can't seem to upload any pictures. That is a problem, considering I wanted to work on a sequel to my "Why I'm Not a Food Blogger" series and the post is set to contain some 30 or so photos. Egad. It's also a problem considering option #2 was to post about the lovely evening of sketching we had last night. Not so interesting without pictures of the sketches. So I will instead wax on about a rather profound moment I had today. And no pictures were taken.
I've been worrying a bit more than usual about the fine lines in my face. They're growing deeper, the aging process sped up, no doubt, by the trauma of the past few years. And while I plan to age gracefully - as gracefully as possible - and don't care much for the trappings of the stay-young-at-any-cost marketing vultures, it is nevertheless a little harder than I expected to see the patterns of age furrow deeper and deeper.
Particularly on my forehead. I have crease lines in my forehead, well worn, apparently, from years of some serious eyebrow raising or something. Since I don't consider myself easily shocked, I don't know why I obviously insist on furrowing my brow on a regular basis. That alone is enough fodder for some quiet-time contemplation on facial expressions of choice. I've been rubbing a double dose of heavy face cream into those creases every night, not happy until my face leaves an oil slick on my pillowcase.
But today I went to visit my grandmother. My father's mother. She isn't well.
There were two women in her room when I arrived at the nursing home, and they weren't dressed like nurses. They introduced themselves as Hospice. That caught me by surprise. So that's where we are, then.
Grandma woke up and recognized me. But then a few minutes later she didn't recognize me. Then she recognized my son and talked about how kids really do eat a lot. Then she asked who my son was and mumbled a couple of things I couldn't understand. This went on for a short while, and Jonathan's forehead got some furrowing practice this time.
Then she nodded off to sleep again. I didn't try to stop her; we'd had a good enough chat. As she slept, I held her hand and took some good, long looks at her. And as I studied her face and her hair and her frail body and her withered hand, I was suddenly drawn to her forehead.
Crease lines. Many of them. Deep ones. Too many to count.
It would never occur to me to look at my grandmother, or anyone for that matter, and think "wrinkles, ugh!" I don't see people that way, especially the people I love. I see the whole picture, the whole person, and if you asked me right now to name who has the deepest forehead creases I wouldn't have a clue. And I couldn't care less.
With my grandma's failing it is one more part of my father that is slipping away. But if we can't have her much longer, he should get her. I quietly cried a little as I watched my grandma sleep. My son looked carefully from me to his gameboy, from me to his great-grandma. He waited while I went to the bathroom for a tissue. He gave me that sort of slightest-upturn-of-a-smile that says everything it needs to say about love and empathy and how he understands even if it's scary.
Grandma has hit rock bottom and come back before. Once, I swore she died right in front of my eyes - I visited her and she had pneumonia and she slumped over at the kitchen table while we had tea. My hands trembled as I called 911 and I cried with relief when she came to. She recovered from that episode and many more, and she's proven that a lifetime of smoking cigarettes and drinking gin and eating creamed beef on toast and playing Old Maid for nickels makes for long living.
I was glad for the visit. And I was glad for the reminder of what's important. Sometimes we forget.
And in my worry, the lines grow deeper.