Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Today I am grateful for my mom’s hair. When we walked into her room at the rehab the first thing she said to me was “Hi Sweetie! How was the drive?” The first thing I said was, “Uneventful. What’s with your hair?” She said, “I know isn’t it awful? I was waiting for you!” Like always.
Every time either my mom visited me, or I went to see her, the first task at hand was to do her hair. Sometimes it was a quickie perm, others a shampoo and set. First thing! For our own reasons. Hers is that she LOVES when I do her hair. “You have the nicest touch!” she must have said a billion times. My reason is that if I’m going to have to spend time with her, she better look good or I’ll go crazy picking at her hair like an orangutan in Sumatra.
This time was slightly different. I couldn’t do her hair the first day because I needed to assess her. Oh, her mind is perky! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that 90 year olds mind! I expected her body to be in worse shape than it was. The strengthening exercises in physical therapy are helping, even though I wouldn’t want to be one of the therapist who has to listen to her growl at them through the whole process.
After chatting with her for an hour I deemed her capable of getting her hair done. It was way too long and she never gets it cut between perms because it’s so fine, but it needed cutting. I was going to have to finesse this like a diplomat brokering peace.
I called the rehab to see if I could use the “salon” and they assured me I could. I couldn’t call her to warn her because she has no phone. So I gathered up my sisters Velcro rollers, a rattail comb and her tiny sharp scissors and off I went.
“Hey, Sweetie! I was wondering when you’d come,” she said. “I’m here to do your hair.” She let out a deep sigh. I don’t know if it was good or bad, but I was determined.
Himself and I went down to the room to check it out. Yes there was a salon sink and standing hair dryer. There were also about 7 Hoyer lifts and various pieces of equipment. We moved just enough of it into the hall to make space, then Himself went off to Cabela’s to pet the fish, getting out of our hair. . .literally.
Someone helped mom into the wheelchair, I plopped the bag of rollers on her lap and off we went. It was a challenge. Mom couldn’t transfer to the salon chair and I wasn’t about to dig it out from the pile of equipment. “You’re going to have to skootsch down in the chair mom, or your head won’t get back far enough.” She did. No complaints.
With my hand on her head and the water the correct temperature, I could feel her entire body relax as the warm water hit her scalp. Nothing like it. “Oh that feels soooo good,” she said, as I sudsed her up and scrubbed and massaged. “No hairdresser in the world has a touch like you.” Nice. We knew all of our lines by heart.
I explained to her that she needed her hair cut a little bit because even when styled, it was just too long. She balked, but only for a second. “Okay, whatever you think. Just don’t cut all of the perm out.” Wow! Who is this person and what did she do with my mom?
I moved around her like a cirque du soleil performer. . .and my back felt like it when we were done. She and I were covered in little curls, as though we had been at the groomers when a gigantic poodle was being clipped. The sink leaked and I was sloshing through a puddle of water with tendrils floating in it like organic sludge. It was a mess. It was hilarious. We laughed.
“How many times have I done your hair, mom?” I asked, her handing me a roller. She thought for a minute and said, “I was thinking about that. I remember you were about 16 and I had to go someplace and my hair was a mess and you fixed it for me. At that moment I thought, she should be a beautician.” I warned you. Sharp as a tack. A fifty year old memory right at the surface.
I plopped her under the drier and went to get something that wasn’t a hair-shirt to put on her before I combed her out. When I returned, I pulled a stool up very close to her and started asking questions. People tell their hairdresser things they won’t tell anyone else. Trust me on this. It’s true. Mom is no exception. I got my answers and she got listened to.
Shoving her back down the long hallway, my arms aching and back bent like Methuselah the only thought in my mind was. . .”I hope this isn’t the last time I do your hair, mom.”