Grandmother says they’re angel kisses and pulls me to her bosom.

I welcome her emphatic stance. It comes just in time for me to wipe emergent tears on her apron, unseen. Surreptitious. I am enfolded into a mighty love, breathing a heavenly scent of roses. I expect her tender entanglement to suction the freckles from my body when I am released. She is that magnetic.

But it doesn’t happen. The freckles merely multiply and deepen in color on my summer skin, fading in the fall. I try a bold pseudo-lament that I’d have a tremendous tan if God had mixed my skin tones more thoroughly, as part of the “God is not finished with me yet” message I learned in Bible School.

I punctuate the claim with a laugh, but no one ever moves beyond a quizzical, bemused look. My smile fades. I shrug. Even smart-ass quips can’t overcome a craving to be like the other kids who run in full embrace of the sun.

I become a dedicated reader – indoors, pale but fully edified and ready for college. I go to college, bedazzled with others’ social ease, unwilling to look in a mirror, so I seldom see the smiley face that others secretly adore.

Freckles ruin the sophistication of a little black dress, something that Coco Chanel hadn’t planned on, as I head off to young adulthood. My knees become the show when I seat myself on a preschool chair, dressed in a pert plaid skirt, whether in my speech-language pathology work with toddlers or to volunteer as children’s book reader at the local childcare program. My lover grabs a pencil to connect the dots on my belly and I am not amused.

Suddenly magazine ads feature some freckled models and actress’s photos are no longer airbrushed to remove artifacts like freckles. I’m married to a man who adores all of me, out loud, everyday and never mind the freckles.

Now, as we move into the golden years, I still don’t linger in front of mirrors. When the dermatologist offers me a prescription cream to lighten age spots, I am shocked. To me they are only freckles, there since childhood.

They are angel kisses.