Mirrored Memories

Being a man of a certain age, I am lucky that I don’t have to look into a mirror that often. I do like to shave though, and brush what is left of my hair into something not resembling a floppy hedgehog. So at least once a day, looking into a mirror at my face is a necessity.

There are recent photos of course. But something about that two-dimensional image is never quite as disturbing as what looks back at me, from the bathroom mirror on the wall above the hand-basin. The sagging neck, jowls where cheeks once flourished, and bags forming on the bags already under my eyes. Ears slowly growing larger, lips drooping perceptibly. It’s getting harder to separate neck from chin, and the backs of the hands holding the razor and keeping the skin taut look like someone else is shaving my face.

There was a time when I looked into mirrors to check on things. Was my tie straight, and my hair parted correctly? A brief smile to check that I was still on form, a pat of the after-shave onto my firm cheeks, and off I went. Sometimes, I try to remember that face from not so long ago. The face that looked back at me, not the flat one in youthful photos. I can no longer recall the detail, or the differences from what I see now.

I have grown into a face that has reflected my past, and the excesses of youth. The years of work, some times of worry and stress, and many hours of happy smiles. It is my face, and I am stuck with it.

But I wish it didn’t look like someone else. Someone not me.

49 thoughts on “Mirrored Memories

  1. Pete, as I approach an age about which the Beatles once sang, I’ve noticed the creeping effects of aging. However, they are still minimal. At least that’s what my Magic Mirror shows me after I establish communications with it (“Mirror, mirror on the wall…”).

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  2. This is so true, Pete. You are the brave one to put our thoughts into words, and into print! My refrigerator has a collection of photos, new and old. One is of me and my husband before we were married. When people look at that photo I always enjoy the “Who is that?” question. It is great fun.

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  3. Lol. Since I was tiny, members of my Dad’s family have raved about how much I have looked like his mother. I never could see it – and certainly not as a young child. She was in her late 60s when I was born – so well old by the time I was growing up – and I really thought they were bonkers! There did come a point, when I was about ten, when I looked in the mirror and saw my father’s eyes looking back at me, but that was the closest I ever got.

    When I was in my late teens, the family finally unearthed a photograph of her in her early twenties and I began to see the resemblance, but it still didn’t really sink in. In fact, with her death and not seeing the rest of the family very much, I forgot all about it.

    Two years ago, when my Dad died, I met his brother again for the first time in many years. And he looked at me with a most peculiar look before coming out with the same refrain: ‘You are so like my mother! It’s uncannny!’ And I must admit that I felt a bit annoyed: ‘I’m myself, for goodness sake! Can’t you see that?!’ (To be honest, I still thought he was bonkers).

    Then, one day, not so long ago, I looked in the mirror… and…

    Yeah. Okay. Still a few years to go before the face fully matures, but I have to admit it. They have been right all along πŸ˜‰

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    1. When I was a teenager, and becoming seriously interested in girls, my Dad used to tell me “If you want to know what she will be like in 25 years, look at her Mum. If you want to know what she will look like in 50 years, look at her Gran.”
      My own resemblance to my late uncle on my Mum’s side is uncanny. I am sometimes mistaken for him by people who don’t know he has died. But his is never the face I see looking back from the mirror. That is always the face of someone I really don’t know.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Ha! My husband tried to tell me that when we were courting and I told him straight that I don’t resemble my mother in either looks or build, so he’d better think again!

        I know just what you mean by ‘the face of someone I really don’t know.’ Mostly, that’s how I feel, too. There was just that once, for an instant, when I suddenly saw my grandmother…

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Robbie. We don’t see the change in others quite the same as we see it in ourselves, I suspect. Over the last couple of years, I am having to get used to a different person in the mirror. Me, but not as I recognise it… πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Pete — I have seen your picture and I see only what God sees … a unique and wonderful person whose image reflects much compassion, many long years of experience, goodness of heart — We cannot compare our looks at one time in our lives to other times in our lives because each step along the path of life has its own set of “Looks” and “Conditions.” The Twenty Year Old man can be very handsome for a Twenty Year Old and an Eighty Year Old man can be very handsome for his age group but it is unfair and unwise to try to demand that one group look like the other because each age group has its own particular beauty. God planted this great garden we all call “The Earth” and in all His Great Garden He planted nothing but flowers of eternal beauty …. There is not a single “Weed” in The Garden of God! Be proud of who you are and how you look and enjoy ever single minute of Life that you are granted because it is over soon enough.

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  5. Ha! I feel similarly. I look at my hands with some age spots blossoming and they are the hands of my mother. I look at my reflection and cringe. The pictures of me in my 40s look great compared to the pictures taken yesterday. Saggy. Ah, well. Today’s picture will look great in ten years.

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  6. I have never thought I was beautiful-but I sure used to “look better”. Ha! Well, aging sure does make one think more about what is on the “inside” of us as the outside does not work for us as it did in youth. It seems we are forced to consider our actions” more deeply than ever. The mirror seems to find a new way to shock me constantly. Oh well! Your description of this season was well put.Thank goodness our dos don’t care a bit! ha!

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    1. Thanks, Michele. For me, it is less about vanity, than the unfamiliarity. I was never good-looking, but I stayed as my version of ‘me’ for a long time. That seems to be morphing into someone else now. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I always avoid wearing my glasses when I look in the mirror, except when I’m getting new glasses. Although with Malians new found fascination with makeup it’s likely that I will have some fetching purple rouge on my cheeks or lip-gloss on my forehead πŸ™‚

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  8. I try to remember that others love my face. Catch your wife some time when she is feeling affectionate and notice how she sees you. That helps me and also remembering how much I loved my wrinkly, half bald, liver spotted grandmother’s face.

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  9. Oh dear lord, what is this?? πŸ˜‚ love your selves ‘warts and all’ try smiling at your faces, everyone looks beautiful when they’re smiling! Right, off to have me hair dyed, nails done and some dermabrasion 🀣🀣

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  10. I have never been a vain person so mirrors were used to check the hair and make sure I didn’t have food or toothpaste around my mouth ( πŸ˜‰ ) but now I hate seeing myself in the reflection of a shop window or a mirror as I don’t recognise that person. I still like to think I look the same age as I feel, though I know I don’t and the growing resemblance to my mother is worrying. The good thing is, I no longer care what other people think.

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    1. I have reached the stage where I don’t really care what others think. I just don’t like those occasional ‘surprises’ in the mirror. Shop windows, and large shop mirrors, are an even bigger shock, though I am rarely anywhere where there is a shop… πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete. x

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  11. The older I get the stranger my face in the mirror often looks to me. But it’s my face, and it tells the story of my life, and most of the times I’m even grateful for the harsh wrinkles and curves in a skin that is similar to old blotting paper. πŸ˜‰ It’s me, but this face is also only a mask, and underneath is the untouched and glowing and blooming face of youth. Sometimes… πŸ˜‰

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