The other day at work I looked up from where I was sitting at my desk and through the glass windows, I saw a small lady sitting in the front seat of a big suburban with her hair pulled through a ball cap. I sat there and just stared at this lady for several minutes. I’m pretty sure my eyes teared up. I had so many flashbacks in that one moment to my mom in the exact same position. She’d wear a ball cap when she complained her hair looked a mess or was greasy (it rarely was though).
She was a small woman, only 5′ 1″ at the most. She had the most beautiful long brown hair you’d ever seen. She loved her long hair and so did Dad. He loved to brush her hair and play with it…
I remember when we had to shave her head because the chemo was making patches of it fall out. She sat on a kitchen chair in the middle of my parents bathroom, her bird like frame seemed small against the stark whiteness of the room. Dad stood on her right and turned on the razor, took a deep breath and started to shave her head. I’ll never forget standing there watching as my mom sat in that chair, her eyes closed, as silent tears ran down her face. I looked up to see the same sorrow running down my Dad’s face as well. Even our dog at the time sensed the palpable sadness and walked over to Mom and rested her head in Mom’s lap.
After her head was shaved, Mom would get really cold so I started to crochet her some hats… I wanted her to still feel pretty even though her hair was gone. So I made the hats really crazy colorful…I told her they would match all her pajamas. I used to tease her in hopes of bringing a smile to her face by rubbing her head and telling her it felt so fuzzy.
My mom was a physically gorgeous woman, and though she knew that, she was never once prideful about it. But as a woman, it’s sometimes hard to fight feeling proud of something thing you actually like about yourself. So while my Mom never boasted about her beauty, I think she felt like the last bit of it had been stripped from her when her head had to be shaved.
It was really hard to see her let go of the last physical reminder of her femininity. Even though she got some wigs later on and joked that she would like to try being blonde (trust me, she was not a blonde wig person!) I still think each time she put on her wigs that there was a part of her that wished for her own hair.
I know this might sound insignificant to some people. You might be like, “What’s the big deal? It’s just hair…it’ll grow back.” While I can’t speak for all women, I can speak for my mom and I. We love(d) our hair and it’s the small things in life that make you feel pretty…for her, it was her hair.
I don’t really have a point with this post. I guess I’m just reminiscing. It’s just the first time I’ve seen someone who looked like my mom. I actually thought for a split second that it was her. I know with startling clarity that I’ll never forget the moment I saw that lady in her big saburban. And even though I held it together pretty well at that moment, it’s a long journey to where I’ll be able to see someone in a crowd (or service drive) who looks like her without feeling like someone ripped out my heart all over again. While I’m slowly getting to a point where every memory of her doesn’t necessarily make me cry but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hurt.
Anyways…I guess I’ll close this post with a quote that kind of sums up everything this post means: “The only reason people hold on to memories so tight is because memories are the only things that don’t change when everything else does.”