I’ve always had my mother’s hair–wavy or curly, depending on the humidity, and lots of it. Mom greyed early and never colored her grey. In the 1960′s people asked who “frosted” her hair; women actually paid money for the grey highlights that Mom grew naturally.
I was afraid to iron my hair so I tried Curl Free for my high school graduation. It was June, 1970, in Raleigh, NC, and Dorton Arena at the NC State Fairgrounds was not air-conditioned. I just wanted long, straight hair down the back of my blue graduation gown. The pictures from that night show beautiful waves that got bigger and bigger in the humidity. I hated it.
For a lot of years I judged my mother harshly. I didn’t like the way my dad treated her and I couldn’t understand why she didn’t resist. When my dad retired early and then went into a nursing home at 63 (the result of drinking, diabetes, and a stroke), she lived alone for the first time. We moved them from Ohio to Greensboro and helped her buy a one-level 2-bedroom town house close to our neighborhood. She spent her time reading and watching CNN. I felt sorry for her. Her life was disappearing and she hadn’t accomplished anything.
“I think I’m turning into my mother!’”
The same wavy grey hair circles my head. My chair sits beside the aquarium with the huge catfish in the living room. I read the paper or The Hunger Games and drink my tea. Sometimes I watch MSNBC or Dr. Oz. My cell phone and the home phone are on the table beside me. I’m ready if one of my daughters or a friend calls. My body requires rest.
I wish I could tell my mother I understand now. It’s okay to rest and reflect. She died in 1998. Maybe she wasn’t depressed. Maybe her accomplishment was getting to a resting place.
* “Not my mother, not my father, but it’s me O Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer.” (Click here and then on the title to listen to the hymn by John P. Kee)