Word Portrait || Old Age

She had been old for as long as I could remember; a quality confirmed by photographs that documented the last three decades. Not that there were many, but in the few pictures that were she always seemed to have been caught by accident; lingering in the background while casting suspicious stares at the camera lens.

It was hard to miss her in pictures as much as it was in real life. She had flaming red hair that she dyed with henna in a constant battle against the white that pushed through her roots. Her tawny face was shriveled like aniline leather, yet it maintained a tautness that made it seem as though there were just enough skin to cover her bones. She was of a small build, and had a frailty about her that perfectly juxtaposed her penchant for curse words. Yes, she was not just chronically old, but cantankerous too. With beady eyes that appeared even more glassy beneath the thick magnification of her white-rimmed spectacles, you could always count on her to start a fight.

It was a curious habit to have as a nanny, but one our parents willingly overlooked on account of her incredible patience when dealing with children. ‘They’re heart’s are honest,’ she once told my mother. How she discerned as much was beyond me; especially considering the hours we spent plotting pranks against her. We did so with the kind of ignorance distinct to children, blind to the variables of old age and visceral hardships —both of which, undoubtedly, were her defining characteristics. Of course, that was something I’d come to learn when it was much too late.

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