It had to happen sooner or later. Five years ago on my 60th birthday I looked in the mirror and saw my mother looking back at me. I don't think I look exactly like my mom although I do resemble her enough that relatives who hadn't seen me in a long time would always remark how much I looked like her. I think the feature that I would zero in on the most would be her eyes. We both have big, brown, expressive eyes.
Now that I have just turned 65 I see her more and more not just on the outside but on the inside. I gaze into those eyes and I see all of her sorrows, her pain, her joys, her fears. I understand her hardships and how much strength it took her to carry on when life treated her cruelly. My mother was adopted and it was only in her last years that she voiced her wish to know her real family. Sadly we were not able to make that happen, but we have learned enough to know that how she was treated by others, especially my father's family, led to her living a life where it was better to keep your head down and not draw attention to yourself because you were never good enough. I see all of that and feel it in every blink of my eyes. The older I get, the more I understand her and myself as well.
These days when I look in the mirror I no longer cringe or criticize what I see there. I have earned every wrinkle and every grey hair. Covering them up or having them removed does not deny their existence. I am who I am now and forever. I am proud of that and only wish my mom could have been, too. So when I see those big brown eyes looking back at me, I say, "I love you," to the both of us. I think she would have liked that.
And so it is.