TITLE: Beautiful Knees
By Theresa Kissinger
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I looked at my knees the other day and I was reminded of someone so long ago who decided I was not the girl for him because my knees reminded him of his aunt.
Ladies, think what you will now, this really did happen.
At the age of seventeen or I didn’t want my knees to look like hers either. I’m sure that there was someone else my knees needed to emulate rather than this mother of three children. A woman of character whom I will always love and admire, but she would not have been Miss Harford County, not that either one of us would have competed for such a title. It was a title for young ladies who had taken care of their knees like Mildred’s daughter who wore the crown when she was seventeen.
I had never considered my knees before, other than the scars my tomboy years had added to them. They connected my muscular thighs to calves, ankles and feet. When they were supposed to, they would bend. Bled when I skinned them, which wasn’t as often as I grew into a teen. They carried a few prominent scars, the only evidence of my competition with my brothers and the neighborhood boys. I had to run faster, throw harder, play better do anything they could, or better. Go with them where no girl had gone before. Every scar has a story attached to it like the caption for a picture in a history book.
When I met Mildred I was twelve years old and over the years I spent many evenings at her house with her family. I was shy about getting to know her at first because I hadn’t had neighbor experiences that there wasn’t someone else who paved the way. After we had gotten acquainted I practically lived there. She and her family welcomed me into their gatherings and family activities as though I was a part of them. I even vacationed with them a few times. I was included in family celebrations, birthdays and anniversaries. Her children were my extended siblings and I was as proud of them and their accomplishments as I could be.
I learned a great deal from my friend who was old enough to be my mother. I learned cooking lessons, how to iron a shirt, how to clean house and many practical things. Then there were the things that were implanted in me I don’t know how I learned them or when but what I saw in her life were seeds that eventually produced fruit in mine. Seeds of virtues like patience, commitment, faithfulness, diligence and kindness. Mildred’s life was like a deep rooted character tree whose seeds were nourishment to me, they quietly grew into tender shoots and eventually, even after I moved from her shade they grew into a forest of my own.
Maybe that’s why it’s not surprising that I would receive the Lord in her living room with her and her pastor. Maybe that’s why it seemed like the most natural thing for me to do. The pastor wished me a happy birthday and asked if he could give me a special present for such a special birthday. It was the day before my sixteenth birthday and I had just been introduced to him and I couldn’t imagine what gift he could give to a complete stranger.
Now when I think back on the boy who couldn’t be interested in someone whose knees were not glamorous or sophisticated I realized thirty odd years later that he had his priorities in a muddle.
I saw Mildred’s knees on the floor scrubbing, on the ground weeding, kneeling down on concrete when she painted the porch and I remember them on the carpet when she was in prayer. That’s where she prayed for her husband, her children, her family and friends and I’m proud to say maybe even me.
Today my knees don’t work as well as they used to. When I consider my knees now I don’t worry about their appearance as much as I want to know they can get me back up on my feet. Can my knees get me up when I’m gardening, on the floor washing it, or on the flagstone around the pond and even in the carpet, just let me get up again.
It occurs to me that many young girls including my own beautiful daughters might look at my knees and hope theirs never look like mine. I understand completely but more importantly I hope that something deeper causes them to want to follow me the way I followed the things I saw in Mildred and I’m still trying to perfect.
I could always use some improvement in my appearance, I’d like a different hair color, less lines in my face and a smaller waist but I could never complain about the look of my knees. I hope they do look like Mildred’s and always will.
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