The Beautiful Pattern

 
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We were sitting together in her lounge room watching Mamma Mia for what seemed like the thousandth time. Daphne loves Mamma Mia and we watched it together often—the number of times you’ve eaten toast this week is probably the number of times I’ve watched Mamma Mia.

I loved Mamma Mia, the musical, when I saw it in London a few yeas back and I enjoyed Mamma Mia, the film, the first time I saw it. But by its thousandth watch, it loses some of its magic. You begin to realise (probably around the first viewing) that Pierce Brosnan, although charming, isn’t a particularly gifted singer. And so it was that I sat—bunkered down— with Daphne that day, ready to enjoy the sensation of my ears spontaneously bleeding from Brosnan massacring the song “SOS.”

Daphne is a client I worked with regularly when I lived in Australia and needed to top up my adventure fund (referred to as a savings account by real adults). You’re not supposed to have favourite clients, but she was, without question, mine. She has physical and intellectual disabilities, so life is tougher for her than it is for me. My work involved helping her to have a shower, get dressed and eat her breakfast.

Daphne loves movies and music, so a movie with music in it sent her into a joy spiral the likes of which I don’t see too often. We loved to sing together. Daphne is difficult to understand when she’s speaking and I’d often have to ask her to repeat herself three or four times before I’d figure out what she was saying. But when we were belting out some ABBA, Beatles or Simon & Garfunkle classics together, her croaky, not-so-much-in-tune, hard-to-under- stand voice became one of the most beautiful sounds in my world. Brosnan could learn a thing or seven.

As I watched-endured Brosnan “singing” more of Daphne and my favourite tunes that day, she looked down at her right arm with a puzzled expression on her face.

“What’s that KT? Who did that?” She was pointing to her right forearm with her clenched up left hand, but I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. “What is it KT? Who did those patterns?”

I thought she may have had a scratch or bruise on her and I became a little concerned, so looked a bit closer. But I couldn’t see what she was talking about. “Those beautiful patterns, who did them on me?”

I was baffled for the longest time, but after about 10 minutes of questions and pondering, I solved the beautiful riddle: She was pointing to her wrinkles.

Daphne is in her 60s and I was sitting next to her when she realised, for the first time, that she had wrinkles on her skin, and she thought they were the most beautiful patterns she had ever seen. She even wanted to thank the person who put them there!

So often, we want to make everything new again. We think that beauty only exists in the shiniest of shiny things: cars, Thermomixes, faces. We want to restore our faces and our lives to a state of pristine smoothness, and we’ll go to the ends of the earth and the depths of debt to do it. Perhaps true restoration comes when we see our wrinkles and scars and, for the first time, thank the Person who put them there, instead of wishing them away.