There is a black and white photograph that rests on my aunt’s side table, up against her yellow painted wall and close enough to the window so the sunlight can beam against it. There are six women each with their arms wrapped around each other, their smiles showing how happy they are to be beside one another. They are all beautiful.
One of these women has short black hair and dark lipstick, round face with high cheek bones that she passed down to both her daughter and granddaughter. Her name is Margie, my grandmother.
This is the photo of her that I have etched into my memory late at night when I think about her, right before I fall asleep. Sometimes I wish that I will dream about her, and most of the time I don’t.
I hold her in the back of my mind with everything I do. And, lately I have grown a heavy interest in makeup – simply because post accutane, my face can (sometimes) manage the new foundation, the lipstick that won’t make my lips dry. I imagine her working the Lancome counter at Lazarus – the job she kept that helped raise her two daughters.
When I apply my lipstick, I don’t see myself sometimes. Instead I see her leaning over the counter in the downstairs bathroom, applying her makeup perfectly – her red lipstick, her blush, and lastly her Lancome perfume – a scent that rests peacefully in my nostrils like a memory I can’t shake – and I probably wouldn’t want to if I could.
I think of this picture that rests on my aunt’s side table because it is perfect. Her makeup is perfect and she probably spent several minutes applying it. I think of her in heaven and I wonder if angels apply makeup or maybe they don’t have to because angels don’t believe in masks when they fly amongst the clouds.
I don’t how old my grandmother was when the photo was taken, but each time I think of her, I see her. My grandmother was always my friend, but I never reached the age before her death, where it was okay to talk about womanhood – where I could easily talk to her about grown up relationships, or my career or simply, how to apply the perfect shade of lipstick and how to put my blush on correctly. Thankfully, I am lucky to have my mother to answer these questions, but I miss my grandmother a lot sometimes.
When I close my eyes tonight I will envision my grandmother just as she is in the photograph. She will have the same smile and the perfect makeup up. Only this time she is sporting a perfect set of angel wings.