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Wearing a Pretty Face

T ODAY when I was resting, silently chanting sonnets in the process of creation to keep my mind from the almost unbearable arthritic pain in my legs and feet, the doorbell rang.

I erased the frown of annoyance that came to my face, and, by the time I reached the door and had opened it, I had managed a smile.

There stood my baby daughter--a senior in high school--tall and beautiful, who explained with a happy laugh, "I just wanted to hear the doorbell, Mom. I felt elegant as I rang it."

My laughter, in a minor strain, mingled with hers, for we are proud to have such a luxury after so many years of having callers knocking on our door.

Then, by some mystic alchemy, the wheels of time spun backward to a summer afternoon fourteen years ago, when I was summoned from my resting by a gentle knocking. Almost too ill to do so, I arose and slowly made my way to the door, reshaping my face into a smile of welcome on the way.

There stood my baby, a blue-eyed, yellow-curled little darling of four, laughing up at me. My smile had vanished and I greeted her with, "Why did you make mama get up and come to the door, my dear? Don't you know that is being unkind?"

I shall never forget seeing the radiant brightness fade from her sensitive little face, the laughter from her lips and eyes. A picture of contrite babyhood, the quick tears brimming over, she said, "But Mummy, I wanted to see you wearing your pretty face!"

The impact of those baby words, with their implication, had come as a shock to rouse me from all semblance of self-pity. Holding her close, I then realized that no matter how ill or fatigued I was, I must let this last little child of mine see a joyous, smiling mother as the others had done; that all of my dear ones needed my smiles more than did the occasional caller.

"A penny for your thoughts, Mom!" I was returned to the present by my daughter's voice, the same which had rebuked me, but with lilting overtones the years had added.

I looked into the unshadowed depths of her eyes, still the same clear-blue, and with quiet, reminiscent laughter easing my pain, I spoke more to myself than to her. "Dear little girl, I have found that 'wearing a pretty face' makes a lighter heart within me." And it still does.