I stepped back to take a better look at her, interrupting our usual reunification hug which generally leaves the poor thing gasping for air and my arms aching. I untangled hastily to observe her more closely. Regal and beautiful as ever, this woman - my dearest mum, has a timeless essence. Her mischievous eyes and zestful smile have thus far belied her age. Looking at her now, I notice curiously she's gracefully giving it away. Framing her lovely face, in place of her usual hazel nut tinted black shock of curls, are unmistakably natural silver and black, spirals springing out defiantly! 'I've stopped colouring them' she said, beaming proudly, 'I've decided to go gray'. Almost 70, always a stunner, she stands confident and ever dignified. 'I can't keep colouring my hair while my daughter goes gray’, she chuckled.
Racing into mid life myself, I figured it might be an opportunity to experiment - experimental because I can’t know as yet what the outcome will be or how I will fare. The perpetual movement against age - the anti-age - I find to be frankly quite tiresome. The first time my mum attempted to grow her hair back into it’s natural colour, I recall the alarming concern from my brothers and father, interpreting it as letting herself go by looking closer to her actual age. The Whispering conspiracy concluded only when she was safely seen to the doors of the hair dressers’ to get it ‘fixed’. This while at the same time, graying Hollywood stars like Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Gere, the dashing George Clooney were all the rave for breaking the internet with their all natural, all sexy Silver foxes look. Aging to be more handsome than ever before, hailing other men to embrace the change with stylish confidence. Amongst women Hollywood celebrities, the Silver Vexin are indeed meant more to hide meekly in the woods.
It’s almost mechanical, at the first sight of grays, the tedious process of dyeing and colouring commences - almost 75% of women start dyeing their hair within a year of seeing the first gray, the rest are just not taking care of themselves. I guess I belong to the latter. Initially put-off just by the overhead of the repetitive nature of the task, I shared my position with my girl friends who were absolutely aghast at first. Even my mum’s friends from thousands of miles away worried I should be doing something about it, reporting to her of pictures of me sighted on social media sporting visible gray’s! I am actually vain, very vain in fact, as my mum will be quick to confirm. If I wouldn’t be vain, I’d probably grow a beard and have bushy branched trees for eyebrows, which is more pronounced than ever at this age. A scary 12X magnification mirror in my bathroom is in place for closely monitoring facial deforestation and timely grooming. It’s the ridiculous promises of wiping away years that infuriates me, the sub-text being we should feel ashamed of getting older. How awful if someone would guess our real age!
I do like youth, youth is beautiful. It's beauty and It’s clueless disorientation - not knowing who you are or where you’re headed. I’m also glad to be past that headiness. The way our hair fades, the lines on our faces, they are the map of where we’ve been - as Julia Robert says in Auggie. Making mistakes and learning from them, of experiences that have taught and toughened us, of big life moves and loss and joy, with ever growing responsibilities for other people. They are maps of worry, love and sacrifice. These maps can’t form in youth. I suspect, how clearly your skin displays them and how soon, is a matter of genetics - not the tons of time and money spent on anti-aging creams. However fortunate you might be with the genetics of it, age in-itself is an interesting look - not only for men.
Into mid-life, I find that I want to feel energetic like my mum at 70. When I look in 12X magnified scary mirror in the morning, no amount of hair dye will do that for me. Exercise and good food maybe. My snake-like scaly dry skin will literally shed, if I don’t lather it with cream. I am having to step that up as the years pile on. I will always love my eyeliner, even when I'm 120, even if it means painting the entire eyelid to work the folds!
And yes, I might look more my age as my hair continues to fade, and I know my mum’s with me on this now :-).
Now get out there, the rest of you Silver Vexin!