I'm at the point in my life where when I look in the mirror I feel surprised. I have wrinkles around my eyes and beginning to form around my mouth. I have quite a lot of grey hair if I'm not diligent about applying the red dye I've used since I was in my late teens. My neck has the beginnings of old lady-like crepey-ness. A little further down, I look...well, I guess lumpy is the right word. I have spider veins in my legs. My hands look corded and the skin on them resembles an alligator purse in texture if you look closely. They already have a few of those age spots that are so common on those of us honkies with the least drop of Scotch-Irish blood flowing through our veins. I'll be 35 years old this year--and holy crap when did THAT happen?!--but I still feel like I always have. When do you start feeling mentally old, I wonder?
The death of Husband's father has got me thinking a lot lately about my legacy when I die. Husband is busy going through all his father's poetry, his paintings and sketches, the letters he received, his email. I think he's discovering quite a lot about the kind of person his father was, his parents' relationship and how much they loved each other, their real interests, their real life apart from parenthood. I've been keeping a journal since I was 10 years old and have a large trunk full of them at this point. My fantasy is that my girls will find them when I die and read every word. They'll realize that I was a real woman like they'll be by the time they read them. I lived a rich and vivid life that I loved, and I was a complicated person apart from being their mother. I imagine that they'll suddenly understand me. Isn't that all any of us want in life? To have people we love who truly understand us?
But who knows if they'll bother. Realistically, those old paper and ink journals may not even be legible by then. The ink may have become indecipherably muddy and the paper dry-rotted. Or some future fire may consume them. A flood may turn them to pulp. Someone may just chuck them out with the trash even, not really caring what the hell they are but just trying to get the house cleaned up for sale, all the garbage thrown out where it goes.
I used to want to be a writer back in my 20's--a real one who published stories that were read and admired. I don't want that anymore, but I do very much want my girls to find those journals when I die. I want to write words in them that are so crystalline sharp and right that they'll just get me and my life. Because you know what? I love this life. It's so hard to think that it would just be over and my girls might not ever know that.