This evening, at the 90th birthday celebration for this delightful gentleman (the father of my husband), someone suggested I try my collage technique on faces. So it seemed reasonable to experiment with this, the face so significant to this day.
But I don't think it works. At ALL. Yes, you can see his warm eyes, his delightful smile, and that fluff around his ears that our daughters used to call "troll hair." But the skin appears mottled, and you don't get the full effect of the lines and creases.
I think we humans draw a lot of important clues from the texture of the skin, especially those lines and creases. And though I heard my younger daughter (who turns 23 tomorrow) whining earlier this week about wrinkles, the odd fact is I think they're beautiful: I actually am liking my own face more the older I get.
To me, beauty, over time, becomes less and less about the features and more and more about what expressions have been burned in by age and experience. And those expressions tell me important things -- not just whether this person is generally happy or sad, but whether he's wise, or gentle, or intelligent, or curious, or a tease, or engaged in life, or capable of love... and all those things are important to me.
I feel that to mask the face, even a little, takes away from the impact of it; I find myself wanting to rip away the veil over this picture, so that you can see that in fact he is all those things, and more. This is a dear man -- yes, a little reserved; yes, a little obsessed with history; yes, stubborner than the proverbial mule. But also wise and gentle and bright and curious, engaged, loving, a bit of a tease -- though all those characteristics have dulled a bit with age -- and he did a lovely and conscious job of stepping in when my own father passed away.
So here's to you, Dad -- and I hope we get to celebrate a lot more birthdays with you; you're a keeper!