We had a huge laundry sink in our house next to the washing machine. (We didn’t have a dryer, clothes were dried on the clothes line in either the basement or out in the back yard.) That is where my mom would wash my hair. I don’t think she had ever heard of conditioner, so after washing my long hair, she had to comb though all the tangles. I can still remember the pain as the roots of my hair were tugged and pulled while she tried to get the comb through it. Then she would take out the big scissors from the drawer of her old standing Singer sewing machine and cut my bangs. To my dismay, usually, they were cut to half way between my eyebrows and my scalp. Ah!
My mom always curled her own hair. Sometimes I helped her put Dippity-Do gel in her hair so that the curlers could do their job better. Never in my life, had I ever seen her with straight hair. But recently, with the Alzheimer’s, when she had her hair curled in the beauty parlor, she would forget that they were curls on her head. So the curls only lasted a day before she pulled her fingers through them thinking that they were knots in her hair.
While it makes me happy to see her after her hair is curled, there is always the next day when I come to see her and feel that familiar pain in my chest when her hair is still stiff from the hairspray but the curls are all gone. Then the caretakers in the nursing home have to try to comb through the tangles and she cries out as it hurts when her hair is pulled. So the other day, I decided to try something different. I trimmed my mom’s hair. She will be 94 years old soon and I am giving her a little make-over. No more curls, she’s got a new do!
She sat so well, patiently waiting as I trimmed her hair. She trusted me. And as I cut, I promised her that I wouldn’t cut her bangs halfway up her forehead.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy