“hallelujah!,” for not “going white”

Am here to spread the word about a newfound “partner in crime,” Zoriana, my new hair stylist. Where has she been all my life? Obviously not where I was. But circumstances beyond my control finally caused me to seek her out. And I’m very happy I did!

Baby-boomers like me, and those slightly older, and perhaps some who were still toddling around when I was in high school, know that a woman’s “crowning glory” is literally on top of her head, her hair, her hair, her hair! So when our “crowns” start to tarnish, some of us “hit the bottle,” literally. The bottle of henna rinse, that is, or whatever they’re calling it these days. I’ve been guilty of “hitting the bottle” for quite a few years. How old was I when I started? Who knows. And at 61, who cares?

I think I began by doing the job myself, maybe in my 40’s. I couldn’t tell you exactly when. As with age, graying hair snuck up on me. Like all things novel, dyeing my own hair back to its original color, or almost, was okay, no big deal. In my 50’s, it was getting irksome, especially when I’d spatter color on the floor tile, the bathroom wall, my clothes. Then the task became a bigger project, cleaning up after myself. Of course, trying to find the right hair color product was a job in itself, trying to imagine me in the picture on the front of the box. It required a lot of imagination since the models are Caucasians, and African-Americans, never Asian.

When I moved with my daughter so she could train for a professional dance career, dyeing my hair in the bathroom of our rented apartment, convinced me I should have it done professionally. The space was small, and I feared permanent stains might jeopardize the return of our security deposit, when we moved out. At least that’s what I told myself. But I’ve never looked back on what’s become a habit. I consider it part of my housekeeping salary, and I’m sure my husband likes that I don’t look like his grandma, although she was a very lovely woman.

My friend Katy “kicked the habit” a number of years ago. She now has a gorgeous head of hair in shades of “salt and pepper” gray. Unfortunately my head would look like white cabbage. It’s not a bad look, if the body matched. My vision of that person is like Ellen de Generes, cute and perky. A month-and-a-half ago, I thought I had no choice but to “go white.”

The hairdresser I was seeing for several years developed an allergy toward dark hair color. To contend with the problem she washed my hair before applying the color, where previously she use to do the reverse. Perhaps that caused my scalp to react badly the last time I saw her. As she began applying the color, a burning sensation developed in one spot. I think she quickly smoothed on a lotion to counteract the burning. But for the remainder of the appointment, the stylist proceeded very gingerly. When my hair was done, we weren’t sure how we’d proceed in the future.

The burning sensation abated, but that area of my scalp was red and itched. The next day my scalp scabbed, and over the next few days returned to normal, except for some residual itching. But I was left in a quandary as how best to resolve the issue of going “au naturale,” or finding someone with whom I could discuss my dilemma. Having clipped an article about Zorianna from the local newspaper, I gave her a call. Best decision I’ve made in a while.

To our great relief, I experienced none of the scalp burning as in my last appointment. Hallelujah! I’m young again! At least my hair is. I know I’m delaying the inevitable. I definitely plan to “kick the habit,” sometime. But in this case it’ll be later, rather than sooner. We’ve all got our weaknesses. While I’m fine with the rest of me, I’m vain about my “crowning glory.” I know I’m not the only one.

for seniors trying to hang in against all odds, and Zoriana, huge hugs…hugmamma. (www.zorianasbeautique.com)

a godsend, so cherish

Our daughter was born after my husband and I were married for 16 years. She was our “miracle baby” for we thought we’d never be parents. Had she not happened, we might have adopted. I did not want to endure testing to learn why we were not blest with a child before her, nor did I want to subject myself to methodical, medical procedures to become pregnant. Before she was born, I can remember sitting in our tiny, 100-year-old, New England, church during a Mass where 8 year olds made their First Holy Communion as Catholics. Tears welled in my eyes for I wished one day that my child would be among the communicants. From my lips to God’s ears, for my prayer was answered. I have always felt that our daughter was a gift that He placed in our care. She is ours to nurture and love, but she is not our possession, she is God’s gift. And “what he giveth, he can taketh away.” So I cherish our daughter more than life itself, and I never take one day with her for granted.

“Resilience” is written by Elizabeth Edwards, infamously known as the woman with incurable breast cancer, whose husband had an affair during his bid for the 2008 presidential campaign. They are now divorced since efforts to heal their marriage were unsuccessful. Elizabeth has borne these crosses publicly, but she has carried another in the privacy of her own heart, the untimely death of her teenage son. How can any mother, or parent, recover from such loss? Elizabeth shares her thoughts, on her own journey towards rebound.

Wade was 16 when he died. On April 4th, 1996, the wind blew across a North Carolina field and pushed his car slightly off the road. Slightly but not enough. When he tried to bring it back on, the car flipped. The air bag came out, the seat belt held, but the roof collapsed on him. The other boy walked away. Some dishes he was taking to the beach for us were unbroken. Our boy was killed instantly. It wasn’t speed, it wasn’t inattention, it was a straight road on a clear afternoon, and it simply was.

And what that wind took at Easter was a cherished boy, a remarkable child with the character of a man. I try to find, in this narrow place, a way to explain his virtues. He was a loving son and brother; holding our hands, hugging us, no matter who was around to see. He was a loyal friend, always there when his friends needed him, but never succumbing to peer pressure. He never drank or smoked. When a parent who came on the accident asked if drinking was involved, the boys there all answered, “Wade Edwards? No way.” He usually drove home those who did drink. He was intelligent and determined. His conversation in the car that day was about how he wanted to be a lawyer; but he didn’t want to take anything from his parents, he wanted to do it all himself, like his father had. He was humble and shunned the spotlight. During the week before he died, his English class studied “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway. He participated in four days of discussion but never mentioned once that he had climbed Kilimanjaro with his father the previous summer. How many among us could have sat quietly? He went to Washington as one of ten national winners of an essay contest two weeks before he died. He did not even tell his closest friends, who only later saw him on television. He was fair-minded. When asked on Martin Luther King Day how we could make the world a better place, he answered, “Look at the inside of people, not the outside.” He was seven years old when he wrote that. Though he had many gifts, he never thought of himself as the tiniest bit better than anyone else. And he chastised those who treated others poorly.

I have tried to think about the nature of the bond between us. I guess the fact of “bond” assumes we are two people, such as would need a bond to hold them together. And I never really felt that degree of separateness that lets you describe the existence of a bond between two different things. His joys were my joys, his pains were multiplied to be my pains. I woke to him and slept only after his lips grazed mine. As private as he held some details of his life, protecting those he cared about from my judgment, his broader life was open, bare before me. I was the witness to all things he valued, most of which were intangible. His weakness, his strength, his vulnerability (which had worried me so), his sense of who he was and what this living business was all about, he laid that open. The truth of life, I would have guessed, could not be found out in sixteen years, and we would be fortunate to have a glimpse in sixty. Somehow, this child knew. Knew that we all fought too much over foolishness, that our vanity and our insecurities kept us from truly helping one another, that true love and friendship were marked by humility and loyalty that disregarded self-interest. And he more than knew these things, he lived his way. His mark will endure, because only these truths of life do endure. The good we do really is eternal, as we had told him, and now that axiom is a charge to us–not just to keep his memory, but to live his life message.

We know that we can never make sense of his loss. He had done it all right. Of all he wanted, he wanted most to be a father someday. And what an unbelievable father he could have been with his compassion, his warmth, his patience. He was a rare gift.

He wrote in a journal during Outward Bound when he was 15:  “More than any other goal that I have set for myself I want to show my love and appreciation to my family for all that they have done for me. I know that I don’t deserve all that I get but I hope that I will someday be able to say that I deserve it. I really want to do something great with my life. I want to start a family when I grow up. I am going to be as good a parent to my kids as my parents are to me. But more than anything, when I die, I want to be able to say that I had a great life. So far I have had a wonderful life and I hope it keeps up.” Well, it didn’t keep up as long as it should have, but we are thankful for what he left us. And he left everyone he touched the better for knowing him. We stand a little straighter in his shadow.

Our daughter has blessed our lives in EXACTLY the same way that Wade blessed the lives of the Edwards family. She has always been singular in her demeanor. She leads, without pressure. She’s seen, without being showy. She’s considerate of others, without their knowing. She gives, without expectations. She laughs, cries, worries, endures pain, gets sick, has self doubts. She is, as a choreographer recently told her, “genuine.” Our daughter is that, on and off the stage. Who you see is exactly who you get. She is a melding of my husband and I, but there’s a quality, an innate God-given sense that she is but an instrument of his handiwork. While proud of her accomplishments for one so young, our daughter is humbled when she sees others as accomplished as her. She easily relinquishes “center stage”, professionally and personally, giving others their moment in the “spotlight.” She has never been about herself, she has always been about others, even as a child.

I am a better person for knowing her…hugmamma