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.