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Monday, June 7, 2010

Smiling on the Inside

Today at physical therapy (yep...I'm getting some help for my back and knees--things haven't been the same since the accident) I saw a woman that had the most beautiful face I've ever seen. I try not to stare at the other clients while they are working through their program or being evaluated by the therapists but I had to peek at her. OK I found myself staring at her. She never stopped smiling even when no one was speaking to her or for that matter even looking at her. It wasn't a phony, glued on, goofy or drugged out smile. It was radiant. Try as Hollywood may, smiles like this can only come from the heart, the soul and the essence of how one lives even when no one is looking.

Her face glowed. I half expected feathers to drop behind her when she walked like they did in the movie "Michael" with John Travolta playing the angel. Yes, she looked angelic. What captivated me even more was the fact she must be in her late 70's or maybe even her 80's. She had soft, shoulder length, honey and silver colored hair pushed back by a simple white headband. I swear there were no wrinkles on her face, and no signs of plastic surgery--just the faint remains of freckles from girlhood that still dotted her high cheek bones. No makeup. Just pure angelic effervescence.

As she stood up to leave I saw her reach for two crutches. I could see a leg brace poking out below one pant leg. Slowly, and quite deliberately, she made her way to the exit doors. Smiling with each step. I could not help but wish I could have a conversation with her. Be her friend. Learn about her story. Sit at her angelic feet. Bask in her beauty for as long as possible.

My foster mom's mother-in-law, Granny J, had a face that also showed the condition of her heart. I never once remember her smiling except a smirk if she was gossiping. Years ago when I was looking at my little sister Pam's wedding pictures, I saw a shot I've never forgotten. The photographer took a shot as all the guests turned to watch the bride walk down the aisle. This is always one of the magical moments in a wedding; the first glimpse of the beautiful bride. All the guests were contorted to sneak a peek at Pam as she stood holding onto my dad's arm to join Jimmy at the alter. Each and every person beamed like God had personally selected them to be His spot light on the bride. Everyone except Granny J.

Granny J's face was twisted into a wretched frown. Lips turned downward in an upside down smile, eyes cold as her heart, scowling at my sister. No joy. No happiness. No beauty. Nothing but deep lines of hatred etching craters like canyons where smile lines should have been. How sad. How painfully revealing. No amount of Botox can correct a heart of stone.

I'm going to practice smiling. Goofy, silly, Cheshire Cat grins that make people wonder what I'm up to. What harm could happen to one if they practice making childlike faces to see if they can make the corners of their lips reach their eyebrows? I'm going to play a game to try to smile when I feel least like smiling especially when no one is looking or if I'm wearing cranky pants.

Wouldn't it be grand if everyone wanted to ask you, "What are you smiling about?"

And we could simply shrug our shoulders and say, "Nothing." Grinning the entire time.


  1. Oh I loved that! So true. We need to smile more; and your right, about the botox being no help!

  2. What a lovely story! I suspect your therapy angel may really be an angel hidden in people clothing. :)

    Sad about Granny...I know sometimes life is hard, but it's sad that some people just can find no joy whatsoever.

    I hope you have a beautiful day. Give that monkey pants cat of your a pat on the head for me! :)

  3. An outstanding entry of yours, worth to be saved, printed and used for teaching.
    Please have a wonderful Wednesday.

    daily athens

  4. My grandmother was like that - smiling all the time. She's been gone 38 years and I still miss her.

  5. oh, I almost had tears in my eyes. It def moved me!
    wow, how awful for your granny.
    Yup. "Smile and the world smiles with you!"
    I always told my children to smile and "fake it till they make it" makes people wonder what you are up to.
    Hoosier hugs, Cheryl

  6. I love that plan, my favorite t-shirt says "Smile-it confuses people". Maybe you'll see this woman again and get a chance to strike up a conversation.

  7. A lovely story - I too have a thing about faces. I sometimes see the most wrinkled old face and fall in love with it. This lady, though, sounds like her soul was shining through. And you poor old granny. I know people like that too.

    Two things I read: it takes more muscels and effort to frown than to smile. When you smile, even if you don't feel like it, you con your brain into thinking you must be happy.

  8. It is all in the eyes Lil.....the other features will follow. Some have the genetics which assist with age and others do not. There are those who we stumble across in our lives who....just by being close.....whether words exchange or not....can inspire the same level of acceptance in us....because it exists in all as the second part of the three levels of control. Acceptance...that all things are as they are....not should or must be....for those ideas are man made......but just be accepted by the total...the whole...the god inside and out.

  9. A smile a day sounds like good medicine to me.

  10. A smile a day sounds like good medicine to me.

  11. Great story!!! One of my favourite songs "people should smile more"
    Go listen to this guy ...sigh...why do I fall in love with the beautiful hearts of strange lookin men! LOL

  12. Great post!
    I'm putting you on my blogroll.
    Keep smiling.
    Love & Laughter,

  13. I understand about wanting to stare... There's something about a happy and/or contended soul that makes us desire to know them.

    My mom is a lot like Granny J. It seems nothing makes her happy. I dread going over there or talking to her on the phone. Dad is even worse. I'm glad I inherited my grandma's disposition. She laughed all day long for over 100 years!


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