I was sitting having a coffee with my father today.
He reminded me of someone. He's lost weight, and the lines of his face and jaw are more clearly defined. He had a trick of moving his jaw that I hadn't really noticed before. We've always joked about his bushy eyebrows; they are a more extravagant version of his mother's. Mine are going the same way!
And then, through the strong lines of his face, the shape of his head, the movement of his jaw, a slow blink of his eyes in acknowledgement of an idea, I saw my grandmother's, his mother's, face. The impression became stronger as we reminisced about her.
Thinking about it, I'm not sure that I really knew what my grandparents, or even my parents, looked like, until I was about 10 years old. Before then they definitely exist as a constant part of my life, but as impressions, not as images.
So that means that my mental pictures of my grandmother date from when she was about 75 to 85. Well, my father is an octogenarian these days, and so slap in the middle of my strongest recollections of my grandmother. (Grandfather died when I was about 5 or 6, and although I have a few "impressions" of him, nearly all my memories are derived from stories and photographs).
My children are in their mid twenties. So does that mean that their mental images of me, and their father, are based on what we look like from when I was gone 40, and he was nearer 50?
I came across some photographs of us from the 1980's, before the children were born. My hair was mid-brown, his closer to red, and his beard a rich chestnut colour. We were young - I was the same age as my daughter!
Now that last sentence has made me feel very weird!