Last week while hunting through my Grandfather’s workshop I found an old medicine chest. A simple white cabinet with a small aged mirror in the center and ancient glass shelves within. The white paint is “white” in name only due to a generation of dust and wear. The mirror seems to have dust grit within the very glass making the reflection hazy and dim. My Grandmother saw the old medicine chest pulled from a corner and grinned to see it held. “That came from the Columbiana house” she said. To me her voice always carries a dignity and humble pride seldom heard elsewhere. The chest would have come from the house where my Grandfather’s life began. I was fortunate enough to bring the medicine chest to my new home.
That night I sat in the attic looking at my reflection in the mirror and imagined the reflection of my fore-bearers who must have looked at themselves in the same glass while shaving, grooming, picking or whatever. I wondered if I squinted my eyes the mirror might melt the years and form a fuzzy image of all the men or women of my line who saw their face in that same piece of glass.
It is a comfort and a reminder to think of my father and all the fathers watching my family form through the same mirror. A musty reflection of my growth mirroring generations before me. It reminds me that when we look deep into a face we can see not only that person but all the people who’ve contributed to their existence. When we look carefully at our reflection we are remembering the face of our father and examining our own reflection.
In one of my favorite stories, Stephen King’s Dark Tower, he uses a phrase from his creative pool: “Remember the face of your father”. It is meant to be a challenge and reminder to act, live and fight with honor, dignity and spirit. To live a life worthy in the eyes of your ancestors. It has always been a powerful image to me as I am sure it is to many because it is universal. We all can easily picture the face our father when we evoke an emotion either for good or bad. Memory of our early reflections and judgements rest deep in our consciousness.