Andy has been teaching a kindy class. Andy has also been collecting books. Picture books. We walk past a bookshop and he dives inside. There he is in the little people’s section. “Ah! Look at this. The latest Shaun Tan!” Andy cries in delight. I know what I am getting him for Christmas.

Gemma-Rose loves Andy’s new obsession. “Can you read me a story, Dad?” She could read the books herself but Dad does all the funny voices and is quite happy to chat at length about each page.

This evening, I found Andy and Gemma-Rose cuddled up together on the sofa part-way through a book. They were reading Night Noises by Mem Fox.

I sat down and half listened. Ninety year old Lillie Laceby is snoozing in her chair, dreaming about when she was younger. Her dog, Butch Aggie (a female dog so they worked out) wakes Lillie when there is a strange noise at the door. When the old lady finally rouses herself, unlocks all the locks and unbolts all the bolts and opens the door, she discovers all forty-eight members of her family. They have come to celebrate her birthday.

Then my ears pricked up. The following words caught my attention.

“Are you really ninety?” whispered Emily aged four and a half.

Lillie Laceby held her hand and smiled.

“Inside I’m only four and a half like you,” she whispered back. “But don’t tell anyone.”

 Mem Fox must be a kindred spirit. If you have been reading my posts regularly, (is it possible I have regular readers?) you might remember these words:

I guess our appearance is that part of ourselves that the world sees. It is what we are judged on. It tells others a bit about who we are. The difficulties arise when our outward image seems to be in conflict with how we feel on the inside. I feel like I am in my twenties. I am fit and active and feel quite attractive. I don’t at all feel like a middle-aged woman. I really am quite happy until I glance in the mirror. There staring back at me is an aging woman who, I am sure, is not really me at all…

I wrote that a few days ago in the post, The Beautiful People. I thought I was alone. But no! Mem Fox understands. I shall remember Lillie Laceby’s words. Some day I shall use them. I wonder if I will have to wait until I am ninety…
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