Saturday, June 8, 2013

How did I get this Gray Hair?

When I look into the mirror, I ask myself, “How did I get this gray hair?” Oh yes, I have been living with it now for 20-plus years. It is not a stranger to me at all. I had my hair colored once, and that was for a special fund-raising event that my hair dresser had talked me into. She did a beautiful job in bringing the color back to my original brunette. “How long will this color stay in?” I asked with honest concern. Kay looked at me and knew I wasn’t kidding around. She started laughing and answered, “I have been a cosmetologist for over 30 years, and no customer has ever asked me that question. They want to know, “how long can you make my color last?” I suppose my “tomboy” days stuck with me; I was out playing sand lot football with my brother and his friends when other girls were getting permanents. Kay and I became friends almost instantly after she became my hairstylist. When Kay moved away to live in Washington State, I felt like a lost puppy. No woman likes to give up her hairstylist especially if she is a dear friend.
I could not seem to find anyone who could cut my hair as well as Kay could. In the beginning, I shared this sentiment with Barbara, bemoaning my need to find another hairdresser. Barbara said, “I cut hair, let me do it for you. Just fix me a hamburger when I come over.” Perhaps you need to know that Barbara is a funeral director. Her cosmetology clients were all very silent and never complained. The first time Barb came with her comb and shears, I asked, “Shall I sit up or lie down?” Barb truly did a good job, and I never had to lie down, not even once.
Speaking about Barb, she has very attractive silver hair. It is cut in a bob. Her nickname at work is “Harry Potter”, due to her haircut and Harry Potter-style glasses. A group of friends had gotten together for a pot luck dinner one Saturday. Barb was coming straight from work, and showed up in her smart, tailored black suit. She came through the door with a lovely bouquet of red roses. As Barb was arranging the bouquet in a vase, Linda walked into the dining room wide-eyed and focused on the flowers. Linda asked Barb in a troubled voice, “Where did you get those flowers?” All of us in the room were not disturbed by what we already figured out. As Barb stepped back to admire her arrangement as the center piece of the dinner table, she answered, “For goodness sakes, Linda, just consider this a gift from someone who could not join us for dinner.”
Sometimes the process of “natural color,” takes longer for some than others. I met my friend Mary in her second year of a medical residency. At that time, she had black hair cut most attractively in a Dorothy Hamill style. In a year, Mary would become a “real” family practice physician. I am seven years older than Mary, and most of us who have become her friends and patients are six to ten years older than she. It seemed while we were growing into our blood pressure medicine, hip replacements, weight gain and shingles, Mary was eternally young. She would swing open the door of the examining room, revealing her youthful figure, coal-black hair and boundless energy. For years we all would ask each other, “When will Mary finally start turning gray like the rest of us?” It has been 35 years now, and just three years ago, Mary’s hair started turning “salt and pepper.” Now retired, Mary tells us her tennis elbow is acting up and she finally had surgery for her carpal tunnel. We all breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Now that is more like it.”
Whether your hair is silver, white, gray or somewhere in between, let us all take comfort in the words of Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton, “It is not by the gray of the hair that one knows the age of the heart.”  
— Jan Atchley Bevan
Presidential Panache, NLAPW Jacksonville branch

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