Story Lines

Story Lines

“Your face is the first thing people see about you. Shouldn’t you take care of it?”

This was a post about a skincare regimen one of my Facebook friends was selling. Her products sounded magical: they promised to make skin softer and younger looking, remove dark spots and blemishes, and treat fine lines and wrinkles. While these benefits are supposed to excite potential customers like me, sometimes I wonder why we “treat” fine lines and wrinkles, as though the natural process of aging is a disease to be cured. Truth be told, I want to relish in my crow’s feet and the deep grooves in my forehead, and I never want to forget where they came from.

A life well-lived.

Wrinkles are more than the random pattern of sagging skin; they tell the stories of how we became who we are. Because our faces show our expressions, our wrinkles are the story lines of worry, sorrow, laughter, and joy. Certainly erasing the fine lines won’t erase the memory, but embracing these “story lines” can tell so much more.

Meet my grandmother, Elizabeth “Lib” McCalman Caldwell, October 30, 1925-July 28, 2015. She was a fiery redhead, raised during the Great Depression in Memphis, Tennessee. She married my grandfather after he returned from World War II, and they bought a pig farm in Mississippi where she began raising a family without indoor plumbing. Four daughters later, they moved back to Memphis and opened a service station. There they had five more children — all boys — and planted roots for the rest of their lives. Lib (Mammaw to me) raised nine children while her husband worked often 100 hours a week, and those children didn’t always make it easy on her. She cared for her aging parents, her husband, and her younger brother through tremendous health issues until each of their passing, all while continuing to serve in her church and mentor others in her family and the community. She lived on her own in what eventually became a “rough” part of Memphis until her mid-80s. My Mammaw traveled all over the world with Gulf Oil, laughed with her whole body, and made the best ham sandwiches in the middle of the night. There was always a puzzle in progress in her dining room and dishes in her sink from feeding someone.

Her face contained more story lines than anyone I have ever seen, and my only wish is that I could have heard more of them.

To continue reading, please visit Knoxville Moms Blog, where this post originally appeared on March 21, 2018.

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