She always took pride in her hair. She had her style down to a science—wash only a couple of times a week with a shampoo she could only buy in Canada, apply the Suave hairspray (the one with the pink cap) precisely on the front, expertly swoop the hair back just so, apply a specific number of hair pins (which she could only find at Sally Beauty Supply), and tease the strands until she was satisfied with the look.
Due to an obsessive urge for perfectionism, a trait inherited from her successful father who also had perfectly styled hair, this process could take almost an hour—sometimes including frustrated sighs, starting the process again from the beginning, and angry words directed at her bald and impatient husband who was standing by the door tapping his foot, having been ready long ago to leave for an appointment.
Her hair could dictate her mood for the day. A few loose strands would cause utter embarrassment as she anxiously worried that people would think her a slob. The decision to stop dying her hair and accept that she was growing older, and her hair whiter, by the year took her over 20 years to make. From the sight of the first strand of snow white hair, another inheritance from her father, she began to worry about how she would look as an old woman with white hair. Her hair was her glory.
One evening, after tripping over her husband’s ill-placed tool box in the dark, she found herself on the floor in the dark with one arm stuck above her head. She screamed in pain, panic, and horror at the fact that she had no control over her arm.
Her husband rushed in the room and, after assuring her that she looked presentable, they headed off to the emergency room, an orthopedic surgeon and to a diagnosis of a fractured and dislocated shoulder. They returned home with strong pain meds and a sling to hold her arm and shoulder.
Her husband was racked with guilt. Why had he left the tool box in the middle of the room? If only he had just put it away. How could he have been so stupid? He apologized to her from the depth of his heart and she accepted with true forgiveness—never once uttering a word to make him feel guilty for his mistake.
After the initial shock of her condition and the intolerable pain she was feeling, she wondered how on earth she would comb her hair with the use of only one arm.
She could never be seen in public with messy hair and since she would have to go to physical therapy and countless doctor appointments—she wasn’t going to be able to hide in the privacy and comfort of her home wearing her pajamas and disheveled white hair. Even if she could have, she would have worried that someone would stop by to visit and see her hair such a mess and she would never get over the embarrassment of it all.
It was agreed upon that her husband would comb and style her hair under her direction. Whenever she was ready to have her hair done, she would call for him and he would get up from his easy chair without a word and be ever-ready to be her personal hair stylist.
She handed him her brush and he gently ran it through her hair. He held one large working hand near the top of her head as he brushed her hair with soft movements, so as not to cause the slightest discomfort of pulled hair.
Next, per her instruction, he carefully created the straightest of parts. With intense concentration he swooped her hair up just so, removed the pink cap from her Suave hairspray and applied it with the smooth motion of an artist’s hand, gently tucked the pins in place and fixed any areas which she felt made her hair look unruly.
Though her eyes showed that her hair wasn’t as perfect as she would have liked, the disappointment was quickly replaced with a look of love as she thanked him for helping her. He graciously told her he would help her anytime because she was his best friend and partner in life—had been since they were 16 years old.
When he left the room, she used her one working arm to straighten her hair to attempt to perfect her style. She didn’t believe it, but her hair had nice volume and looked great.
“Oh, I suppose it’ll do,” she said with a laugh, “when someone is helping you with something you can’t do yourself, you just have to show grace even if it’s not quite how you would do it.”
And so she lived with a few stray hairs and a style that wasn’t just so.