18/08/2014 10:38 BST | Updated 17/10/2014 06:59 BST

Ms.Bacall, Rembrandt and My Grandpa

"I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that"

Lauren Bacall

Ms. Bacall if you run into my Grandpa up in heaven please feel free to curl up beside him and tell him the life stories etched on your beautiful face, I bet there are some great ones to share.

When I was a small child my grandfather would take me on his lap and he would point out the scars and scratches on my knees and ask me how I got each one. I would tell him the stories of my adventures running and skipping and climbing. I would tell him the stories of my short life.


Credit: Jaki Scarcello

Now at 63 when I look in the mirror and see the boo-boos of aging I try to conjure up the warmth of those times with Grandpa. The lines and scars of this face in its  seventh decade are the stories of my life just as the 4 year old scrapes were.

Love has permanently etched laugh lines around my eyes. And the brackets on each side of my mouth, they are the tracks of joy which sank in with each smile as I watched my children's happiness. Those three short furrows between my brows, the ones the esthetician told me she could botox away, they tell the tale of every time I have worried over the  pain of loss and the sadness of endings. My cheeks are mapped from days spend on beach holidays. My chin is most recently scarred from a fish hook which pointed out rather brutally that my fly casting still needs work.

This has been my life, I have laughed and I have wept, I have smiled and multiple times there has been a frown. My face is the canvas which records every twist of fate which comes my way.

Some years ago at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg I discovered  a series of work by Rembrandt which he called portrait biographies. He realized that within the lines and folds of the aged body the life of the person was contained. 

As I stood before his Portrait of an Old Man in Red I wondered why so many people choose to "iron out" their life stories. I imagine those who do this think the fresh face is an improvement but I just see a blank canvas.

Thank you Ms Bacall for your wisdom, I could not agree more and please, give Grandpa a hug from me.