|My Grandmother, Millie Hart, was born in the year 1900, and passed away at the age of 90. She was born with one blue eye and one brown. The local Montana paper even wrote a small article regarding that (let's hope Stephen King never comes across it, heh). In any event, I was forever in awe of her. I was the youngest offspring of her oldest child and only son (whom she gave birth to at the age of 15), and I resemble them both in many ways. I didn't see her but perhaps once a year, when she would drive her "luxury" sedan across country to California from Chicago to visit us (she was fearless). The seats were always covered in "luxurious" plastic covers. That always bothered me, even as a child, but it also intrigued me. I never understood why someone would want to protect leather, instead of falling into it.
My Grandmother was quite beautiful, and there were hush-hush rumors that she had been married 5 times. I can't really swear to that because those kinds of things are never discussed within my family, much to my chagrin. She was married to her last husband by the time I was born, and it was he who I considered to be my grandfather. His name was Jim Hart, and for all of our live's my siblings and I called him Daddy Jim. Don't ask me why. He was my Grampa. He was as handsome as she was beautiful, and they stayed married for 50 years until her death.
But I digress.
My grandmother's eyes. Therein lies a story (probably many), but the only one I have to tell is this one.
Gramma was visiting on her yearly trek to our sunny state, and one afternoon I asked to do her make-up. I was in the 7th grade. My grandmother was rather stern in my eyes then, or maybe I was just so opposite she just seemed stern. Anyway, it amazes me now, as I look back, that she even allowed me to do this. But I was adament and filled with what she considered way too much creativity. So... she sat. I applied foundation, plucked and penciled her brows, rouged her cheeks and said "Gramma, sit still!", and sit still she did.
And as I applied the eye-shadow on that long ago summer day, I remember being perplexed because her lids were crinkly, and the shadow just refused to go on smoothly. I remember saying in utter shock, "Gramma, why are your eyelids crinkling??". I was frustrated because the shadow I was trying to apply just ... well, it just wasn't working. She smiled slightly (perhaps even a tad cynically, as I look back now) and I think I heard her chuckle softly. When the application was finished, she stood up, looked into the mirror, and without saying a word, walked away. But that didn't hurt me. I knew she had to love it, because she looked so beautiful...
Many years later I recalled that day vividly, like a thunderbolt. I was staring into my lighted make-up mirror, applying sable brown shadow to my lids. Another night out on the town. Gotta knock em' dead. But something wasn't right. I saw... lines. My shadow was just not working. I windexed the mirror, cleaned the sable brush, sat down and tried again from scratch, to no avail. How can this be? What the hell is happening here?
So, for the first time in my life, I really looked into the mirror at myself. Not my lids. Not my eyes. Not my cheeks, nor my lips. I looked at me, and I saw my Grandmother. My heart sank at that moment, and I wondered if I had hurt her feelings so very long ago when I shadowed her lids and complained. Was she watching me now, smiling in amusement from heaven?
I think of you now, Gramma, every time I sit before my lighted mirror.
and I always have to chuckle...