It was no secret. I looked like my mother. I heard it all the time. I had even been stopped on the street by people I didn’t recognize. “You must be Ruth Heiner’s daughter,” someone would say.
I assured them I was, and they would often respond by sharing a memory with me. My mother was a lovely person, beautiful and vivacious. I took it as a complement, but at sixteen I didn’t see the resemblance.
That was a long time ago.
Shortly after Mother died, she showed up in my mirror one day. It was a little scary. I thought she was gone, after all. And my mirror, of all places? Shouldn’t some things be sacred?
Though I couldn’t see the resemblance at sixteen, I could see it clearly at fifty- two, and it was no longer flattering. It was okay to look like my mom when she was a teenager, but I didn’t want to like her when she was…well,...old.
What are you doing in my mirror, Mom? How did you get there? I asked the older woman on the other side of the glass.
“You look like me,” she said. “You always have.”
Where did those wrinkles come from, and what about the gray hair?
“Well you do have seven children,” she said with a wink.
I guess I never recovered.
“Did you want to?” she asked with a smile.
No, of course not, I said as I reached for the hair dye.
Did I always have three chins?
“No, dear, but who’s counting?”
She giggled. I glared. What’s so funny? I wondered.
It’s great to see you, Mom, I lied. If I sassed her, would she come after me?
The truth is, I’d love to sit down and visit with Mom. I’d ask her about her new home. “How is Dad,” I’d say. “Do you see your sister much?” I’d want to know if she has made up with her siblings and if Grandpa still swears.
I’d ask her if she plays the organ, and grows bleeding hearts. I’d wonder what kind of quilt frames they use in heaven. I’d ask about our old dog Nikki and the horse she once named Hope.
I’d tell her about her grandkids. The same seven kids that turned my hair gray. They turned out great, I’d say. They are raising fine children and growing wrinkles of their own.
She would smile knowingly, because she’s been keeping track.
That’s only the beginning. I’d ask her about time in heaven. I’ve heard it’s different there, and what does heavenly music sound like? Has she bumped into any of my heroes? Handel? Bach? Joseph Smith? Heber J. Grant? Emma?
We’d have a lot of catching up to do, and if she had advice for me, I’d listen this time for sure. Maybe I’d take notes. Yeah, I’d love to see my mom, I really would. Just not in my mirror.
I have nothing against old people. They’re great. I love those silver haired angels, and who cares if they can’t remember much. You can always be their new best friend, and tomorrow you can do it again. Maybe someday I’ll take up Chinese checkers, or wheel chair racing, but for now…
I don’t want to look old. I don’t want to act old. I feel young inside. Even when my bones ache, and my blood sugar spikes, and I get winded pulling my pantyhose up, inside I’m still sixteen.
Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.