"Grandma, why do your hands have polka dots?” Seven-year-old Becky scrutinizes my hand clasped in hers then frowns up at me quizzically.“How come you get to have polka dots and I don’t?”
Self-consciously I pull my hand out of her grasp to rub it with the other.
“Those aren’t polka dots, Sweetie. They are, um, age spots.” I almost whisper the word age as though afflicted with a rare disorder.
“What are age spots? I’m almost eight. Then I’ll be a big girl. Can I get age spots then? Becky bounces with anticipation.
“No, Honey. You can’t get age spots when you are young. Age spots come with, well, age,” I stammer.
Slowly I sink into my favorite chair. Exactly what is age? Does age mean old? Am I old? I don’t feel old. Uneasy questions gnaw at me.
I lift my eyes to a framed photo of Mother Teresa, gnarled hands clasped in prayer, deeply furrowed face radiating unruffled peace. Mother Teresa successfully lived the selfless character and unconditional love of Jesus throughout her life. Her face captures a rare beauty, birthed deep in her being, pushing out until it permeates every lined crevice. Competing wrinkles surround her joy-filled eyes and happy mouth.
Wrinkles on Mother Teresa spell character. However, wrinkles on me shout old. Unconsciously, I reach up to touch her beloved hands, loaded with age spots. My fingers move to trace the countless creases on her face.
Yet, as much as I admire Mother Teresa, and hope to also display Christ’s love and character, I can’t honestly say I want to look like her.
“Grandma! You promised we could make cookies.” Becky’s strident demand jolts me back to business at hand. Gliding across the floor with ballerina grace, Becky stops in front of me just long enough to see if she has captured my attention.
I lift a hand to brush my fingers across her upturned cheek, glowing in spring’s full bloom; her young body stretching eagerly toward summer’s adulthood, much like my seedlings reach for the sun. Her thirsty mind soaks up knowledge as keenly as my tulips drink of April rains.
“Can we make chocolate chip cookies for Santa? I just know he likes those best. Will it snow for Christmas? Will Uncle Dan and Aunt Charlotte come?”
Becky’s thoughts flit with the same ease as her feet dancing about the kitchen. Enthusiastically she throws open cabinet doors in search of cookie-making materials.
“Wait!” My assaulted brain fights to keep up with her rapid-fire questions. “I don’t think we have any chocolate chips.”
Becky’s feet stop in mid pirouette. “What? Grandmaaa. We have to make chocolate chip."
“Can’t we make something else?” I venture.
Becky’s incredulous eyes stare at me as if to say - are you serious? Other cookies exist besides chocolate chip? “Pleeeeeze?” she begs.
I push aside unwelcome thoughts of going out in the cold.
“Yippee!” She screeches, dashing for the door.
The jangling phone halts our steps. I reach for it as Becky bounces on the balls of her feet.
“Hi, Mom. I have to work late. Do you mind keeping Becky a few extra hours?”
“Of course not. She’ll be fine. We’re just walking out the door to go buy chocolate chips.”
My thoughts turn to my eldest daughter, Becky’s mother. Smart and ambitious, she and her husband each hold good positions in large corporations; yet they always manage to find quality family time and actively serve others in the church. Their home constantly buzzes with joyful activity and laughter.
My body tells me my own years of abundant productivity are drawing to a close even as my mind fights against this truth. Thoughts as somber as the blacktop parking lot discourage me as we exit my car.
“Look, Grandma.” Becky jabs her finger at a cardinal hopping about the fresh snow.
The brisk wind whips my hair about as I watch the happy bird, content in its circumstances. I inhale deeply. Suddenly I feel very much alive and ready to welcome a new season of life, in which I have more fun time to spend with those I love.
With lightened steps I take my granddaughter's hand in a firm grip and turn towards the market.
“Come on, Becky. We’ve got cookies to bake!”
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