Tag Archive | elderly

My Mother’s Hair


daughter and mom smiling at camera

Her wavy silver hair flipped up at the ends as she ran her hand through the top of her hair.

“How’s that?” she asked me before we took another selfie.

“Better,” I replied with a smile.

Her hair had always been an issue for her, and finally she was figuring it out after 77 years. I remember telling her on more than one occasion not to cut it so short, but then I would see her and she had cut it down to the quick. Oh, for crying out loud, I would think. She had amazing hair and she was always chopping it off! Until now, she finally convinced a beautician to just trim the ends.

I can still recall my mother when she was young, and how her jet-black hair fell across her shoulders. There were no barrettes to hold it out of her eyes, just maybe a headband occasionally. Thick as a down-filled coat, her heavy curls pulled down upon her back. I loved the smell of it and her.

When we lived in Spain, in the sixties, she had it made up by a hairdresser who came to our house. I couldn’t imagine how so much hair could stay piled up on top of her head. It was brushed and sectioned, teased and bobby-pinned. There must have been ten pounds of hairspray holding it all in place. But gosh, was she beautiful. At night, she wrapped it in layers of toilet paper, like the wrapping of an ancient queen upon her death. Then she would sleep half-sitting up trying to keep herself from crushing it. In the morning, I was always amazed as she unwound the crushed tissue, and there without a hair out of place was my mother’s beautiful hairdo.

As I grew older, so did she. Her hair took on a special accent of its own that always intrigued my friends. From her temple, a stripe of silver began to grow. I often wondered how she felt about that stripe that mimicked the tail of a skunk. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, but she was only in her twenties when it appeared. She never said anything about it. But ironically, it became her and would represent the dynamic person she would become over the years.

I’m not sure when it happened, which came first, but she dyed and cut her hair all off. It was a shock. I suppose she didn’t want that gray strip spreading since she was only in her thirties. She had always had young looking skin, and to have a head of silver would clearly age her beyond her years. So rightly so, she dyed her hair. But to cut it? Oh heavens! Her beautiful curly hair was butchered, leaving her with a type of pixie that was easier to manage for a mother of five. By then I was a teenager and having my mom cut her hair was just something that happened.

I suppose her short hair fit her. With a thin face, hazel eyes and thin bones, she had more energy than six moms combined. She was the ultimate mother, running here and there for every child and every event. I never saw her worry about her hair, it IMG_7831was as if it was just there like her eyebrows or mouth. But still when she kissed me good night, she smelled like my mom.

Then it happened. I was departing the plane in Hawaii, coming home from college for Christmas, when I saw my mother. With arms stretched out and a smile on her face, she ran to greet me. But I had to stop a second to take her in. She had a whole head of silver hair! How could this be? Wasn’t it only six months since I left? I tried to smile, but I was confused. Her soft loving arms wrapped around me and she whispered how she had missed me. Submitting to her, I could smell the sweet scent of home upon her skin and I knew it didn’t matter what color her hair was. She was my mom.

When I got married, my mother was not even forty-five years old. Unlike her, I wore my hair long, determined never to cut it. So, when years had gone by and my mother aged gracefully with time, she grew into her grandmotherly silver hair. And, oh boy, did she have beautiful silver hair. My children loved it along with strangers who marveled at its brilliance. But still, she wore it shorter than she needed to.

Then one year she decided she needed a change. She let it grow like she had never before. She struggled to tame her curls that now had a life of their own. She plastered barrettes above her ears to hold down the heavy strands that threatened to    

lady with long silver curly hairblind her while she cooked or read. And when she arrived at her granddaughter’s wedding, her long beautiful locks were the talk of the town. How lovely her hair looked against her matching top of silver and blue.

But it wasn’t long before she was letting some crazy beautician chop it all off! I wasn’t happy. It was so gorgeous and free.

To me, her long hair was everything she was as a woman. She was wild and funny, soft and edgy, creative and opinionated, everything I loved about her. Oh, it didn’t say how smart she was or how loyal, but it did say she was a lioness amongst her pride.

And then I realized, after the initial shock, that again, her hair did not make her. She would remain the vivacious woman everyone has known her to be. She is going to continue to be the out-going, full of life person her children and grandchildren know her to be no matter how short she cuts her hair. She’s still going to love her husband. She’s still going to love her children. She’s still going to bebop around town, piddle in her kitchen and babysit grand-dogs. And she is still going to smell like my mom… even when she is putting the peace sign above my head in a perfectly great selfie shot. Because she is and always will be the best mom a girl could ever have…. Hair or no hair.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom…. I love you!


Humanity in an Unexpected Place

Her aged hands shook as she focused in on the bottle precariously held in her left hand. A whisp of gray fell from her forehead covering her eyes as she sighed heavily. I couldn’t help but watch her with curiosity as I moved quietly around her in the theater bathroom. She placed the bottle down upon the counter and pulled out a folding cup from her weathered bag atop a brown battered suitcase. She paid no mind to me as I took longer than usual to wash and dry my clean manicured hands. Worn and full of story, her fingers found the capsule within the bottle and she placed it on her pale tongue. She moved with ease as she filled her cup half full with water and placed it to her dried lips, swallowing the pill without hesitation. I stared at the suitcase through the mirror as I pulled a small brush from my Kate Spade purse. It’s markings were from years of wear and tear, perhaps a discarded piece of luggage from someone no longer wanting it. Its wheels were battered and the material torn in various areas not accustom to being worn. The elderly lady tucked her cup and pill bottle away and from the front pocket of her suitcase, a small tub of tooth paste emerged along with a tooth-brush. I knew I shouldn’t stare, so I averted my eyes as I put my brush away and dismissed myself from the cold, brown walls of the theater bathroom.
What was this woman doing in the theater, I wondered as I stood silently in the lobby of the vacant entertainment hall? Could this woman be homeless, could she be traveling and just killing time before checking into a hotel? Curious, I stood looking at placards in the lobby waiting to see if the old woman would emerge from the restroom. She did. Rolling her bag behind her, step by step she shuffled her feet towards the vending area where she asked for water. The young man behind the counter smiled and asked how she was doing. She forced a smile toward him, trying to make him feel better as he place a cup of water in front of her. He turned slightly and pulled out a small container that housed a wrapped sandwich and a bag of chips.
“My mom made me an extra sandwich tonight. I thought you might like it later.” He pushed the food toward her with a slight hint of a smile. Her hands, those old dry hands, shook slightly as she placed them on the gift.
“You are so kind to me,” she said.
I turned away from the two at the counter and felt my heart-break. She was someone’s child, perhaps mother, sister, wife or grandmother. What was her story… what did it matter? It made me angry, angry at our society, government, families and myself! How could I let this go on and not lift a finger to do anything? I searched my purse for cash, any cash that I could graciously give to this frail eighty-plus year old woman. But I had nothing but a wallet full of credit cards that lay at my beck and call whenever I got the urge to shop. Shaking my head in annoyance, I looked up to see the counter boy looking at me. He smiled as if he knew what I was trying to do.
“Ma’am, your movie is about to start,” he called over to me, “You might like to take your seat.”
I looked at the kind smile that the little lady gave to me as she followed his words across the room.
“Oh, uh… thank you.” I replied hesitantly. I snapped my purse shut and slowly turned towards the movie theater door.
“I’m just going to sit over here for a while and rest my feet, if you don’t mind,” the feeble lady quietly said, as my hand pulled at the door to my movie.
“Not a movie tonight?” the young man responded, smiling and offering her a soft chair over the hard bench she was now resting upon.
“If you think there’s one I might like….” she seemed to perk up.
Quietly, the door I was holding shut behind me, shutting out the conversation I so longed to hear. I couldn’t bare to think that this little old lady was homeless, alone, and trying to find some shelter from the evening heat in this old theater.
The music sounded as I sat down upon my velvet red seat. My daughter smiled toward me and patted my hand as we began our mother-daughter movie outing. I was lucky and I knew it. I had everything I ever wanted in life… love of a great family, enough money to be comfortable, and a wonderful house to call home. As I squeezed my daughter’s hand, I prayed that the little old lady would find some peace tonight within the walls of the theater.
The door opened behind me, spreading light across the chairs and movie screen. Hushed whispers turned heads of patrons already watching the previews. I too, turned to see the late arrivals as they made their way down the darkened aisle. There she was, holding tightly to the counter boy’s elbow as he guided her to a seat just a few rows before me. He placed her food in her lap, and from his shoulder he pulled down a small throw blanket that he placed over her frail body, tucking its loose edges around her legs to keep her from catching cold in the air-conditioned room. I could feel my daughter’s stare as she watched the scene unfold before us. “Isn’t that sweet?” she whispered into my ear. “It must be his grandmother.”
A small tear slid down my cheek as I patted her hand… “It must be.” I whispered back, knowing the truth would break her heart. “She is lucky to have him in her life,” I whispered as the theater darkened and the movie began.
When we rose hours later to leave the theater, I looked over at the little old lady still resting on the red velvet seat. She did not stir, she made no move to leave…perhaps she was asleep or waiting for the boy to aid her…perhaps she found her final peace having felt the kindness of a generous counter boy. I will never know, but I wonder. I wonder every time I see an elderly lady on the street or in a grocery store, or when a homeless person quietly stretches their hand in my direction. They are a reminder that life is too short to be selfish and naive, and that now is the time for me to do something about it. This is for you my Little Theater Woman and counter boy.

I Want to Live in Animal Heaven…

 sheba heaven  Have you ever wondered if there is more than one heaven? I mean, think about it… I’m not talking about heavens that are described in different religions. I’m referring to “types” of heaven. I was thinking about this the other day when I was praying to God about keeping my “deer” friends in the woods and off the road. It made me think about where a deer goes when it dies. That’s when I realized that God had to have more than one heaven. God certainly has to have an Animal Heaven for all the good animals that have passed from this earth.

Picture it…a place where all the animals get along (and aren’t eating each other); where they can be free of cars and leashes and people. It sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Animal Heaven would have enough grass for the animals to eat, sleep and play on. The animals wouldn’t  worry about killing each other because God would make sure everyone had enough to eat and drink.  Picture each animal romping around doing what they do best without worrying about being shot or harmed in any way. And of course, they would all be happy animals because they had to be good to get into Animal Heaven in the first place.      

Why would I want to live in Animal Heaven instead of People Heaven? REALLY? You have to ask? Even though everyone in Heaven got there because they were good…could you imagine the chaos up there if God allowed everyone to do what they liked to do? Surely there would be problems…imagine a young person playing loud music near an old one, or a toddler banging on a toy while a person is reading. Come on, you didn’t really think there’s  only harps and flapping angel wings up in Heaven did you? (I’m just guessing here…)

No, I think Animal Heaven sounds perfect…because you and I both know that furry animals (versus humans) are much nicer, innocent, and loving than most of us… and where else could we find our loving pet waiting for us…you guessed it…only in Animal Heaven.