92 Until December 27 (period)

American culture doesn’t fancy aging. I know because my American mother pushes back when it comes to such. She mostly just talks about self-preservation but she's been known to patronize Estee Lauder’s anti-aging counter and a couple other [more intense] remedies. Though, strangely, she’s never had a facial.

Sometimes I’m an anti-aging fanatic too -- no alcohol, endless drinking water, mandatory sunscreen, excess exercise, organic preference, and white-knuckle praying to stay recognizable in the mirror. For me, feeling good is looking good.

When mom (Diane) was younger, she held onto her age until the exact date of her next birthday. She was 32, 44, 59 or whatever age until the final hour of December 27. Funny thing is, she’d bump my age ahead, but not hers. This year was different. Mom started referring to herself as “92” at least six months prior to her actual birthday. My family followed suit. We spoke of her being 92 when she really wasn't. Diane was proud and eager to turn a larger number in 2021. Surrender of the inevitable was in gear.

As a pencil portrait artist, my favorite subjects are old people. Storybook expression lines map individual joy/pain journeys. I get hypnotized bringing to life shadowy intricacies of facial lines.

Pencil portrait by Shelley Sweeney

Pencil portrait by Shelley Sweeney

What’s your preference: character-line crevices or stationary, smooth features?

On December 27, 2021 we celebrated, you guessed it, mom’s 92nd birthday. She always says “no one wants to celebrate a birthday right after Christmas, no one wants to think about presents.” My family never suffers Christmas burn-out to the point of ignoring birthdays after 12/25, including hers. But Diane never fails to assume we all dread the event.

In younger days the only thing she ever wanted to receive on her birthday was a card. She loved to read the gushy, sentimental writings and she'd want confirmation that we meant what the card said.

In her 90s, cards are so last millenium. Mom wants to get out and celebrate now!

Our first stop was lunch at J. Alexander's. From there, we took her to see Jeff's office for the first time.

She often says: "I wonder if I'll ever see Jeff's new office."

When the party was over, we took her home for the afternoon nap.

Fun and phew.

The only downside of the big bash was saying Happy “92nd” Birthday because we had all been saying it for a good six months already. Now, ninety-three seems way, way far off.

New Year 2022 Resolution: Don’t say mom is 93 until she is NINETY-THREE!

As we all head down the inevitable aging trail, it’s comforting to know that if we’re lucky enough to make it to 90, adding birthdays can (will!) be relished versus resisted. It's also comforting to know that Estee Lauder and other swanky options really aren't all that and a bag of chips. Mom buys her makeup and skincare at Kroger and Mary Kay now. Who knew.

Living in an age where most of us fight back on looking older, this is good news...makes me smile. Feeling good means looking good. It’s the perfect addition to anyone’s look-good (not younger, good!) regime: SMILE...

Thank you for reading!

Love, Shelley

What good is an office visit without some fun and games? Can you tell the background is superimposed?

Diana is NOT made in China. In case you were wondering.

2 Corinthians 4:16

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.