Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Remembering Beauty




"Yes sir," said the woman in line in front of me. She turned and glanced at me in answer to my question.
I guess I may have to grow my hair out a little.
Sir? Sir! How many "sirs" are 5'3, 105 pounds wearing flowered shirts and toting a purse?! SIR? Do I REALLY look like a "sir"?
"She called you sir," Asherel reminded me, as we left the store, as though I needed another sledgehammer smashed into my ego.
And maybe I do. Crushing any semblance of vanity must be a good thing...right?
But..."sir"?

Although my mother-in-law is losing the memory of many things, including the fact that the Assisted Living Home is NOT Florida where she used to live, and she CANNOT go to her old hairdresser, no matter how much loyalty she feels....even Mom K remembers to take the time to brush her hair after I help her in the bathroom. I always push the wheelchair to the sink so she can wash her hands, and she always glances up from her stooped posture, touches her hair, and then takes a brush and carefully preens. When the nurse walked in with a cup of pills that Mom K had refused earlier, and handed them to me, she also glanced at herself in the mirror and touched her hair. She smoothed an errant wisp before asking me to see if I could get Mom K to take her meds. And then I glanced in the mirror, and ran a hand across my own short mop. The three of us stood in front of the mirror making sure we were as beautiful as we remembered we once were.

Vanity seems to be programmed into us...at least most of us. My carefully conducted research of watching my mother-in-law and what memories survive the longest reveals inconclusively that brushing one's hair is the last to go. She doesn't remember that Arvo is her son rather than her husband, but she does remember her hairdresser.

So, for her birthday this coming Monday, I had arranged with the onsite hairdresser to cut and style Mom K's hair. It was the one thing she still seemed to take some pride in.
"Tomorrow you have a hairdresser appointment," I told her as she smoothed the longish waves she likes to keep shortish.
"Oh no," she said, "I have a hairdresser I have always been using. I will use her."
"She's in Florida," I told Mom K, "Are you sure you want to drive ten hours each way to have your hair done?"
Mom K paused in her hair brushing to consider this.
"This hairdresser is right upstairs...and then you will look so nice for your birthday," I told her.
Mom K looked peeved but didn't argue anymore. I am certain she was worried about what her old hairdresser might think of her for such an act of disloyalty. But she was pleased I think to know that her hair would be lovely again soon.

Sometimes those little superficial perks are what we need to make it through the day. My own Mom has a bathroom sunlight that sends down an ethereal balm upon the surface of the skin. It magically removes wrinkles and sags, and years. When she stands under that beam of light, she sparkles in youth and beauty. I have stood in that beam and it is magical. Dad wanted to install a motion light in there that would flash on as soon as someone walked in.
"Don't ever do that," I warned him, "Then you will destroy the magic light."

As I thought about all this, I realized that part of what I love so much about God is that He knows me for who I am deep inside. He is unconcerned about how long my hair is, how many wrinkles, how much I remember or forget...He always casts a "magic beam" that overlooks my flaws and shines light on the essence of what it means to be a child of God. We are all children of God, known and still beloved. All that is required is to find the Light and remain standing in its beautifying and sanctifying Grace.

I told my husband what the haircut would cost and expected to see him erupt like a volcano. Men don't always know what women pay to look like women. But instead he said, "Sure." He probably has noticed his mother in front of the mirror touching her hair and remembering.

Psalm 45:11 (NIV)
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.







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