No, this isn’t going to be another post about how I dyed my ears brown, or how the hair girl down at Great Clips accidentally gave me a mullet…this is even sadder.
Let me give you a little background information in case you haven’t read all my previous blog posts.
First–my mom is fuggin nuts. Certifiable. Thank God that my father and stepmother are the picture of normality, or hard telling how I might have turned out.
Second–my younger sister was killed in a car accident earlier this year. After the accident, she was in a coma for five days before she passed…and naturally, we stayed at her bedside that week. (Which means I spent more time with my mom that week than I ever have as an adult)
Now, on to the sad, sad tale of hair.
By the time we arrived at the hospital following my sister’s acccident (an 8 hour plus drive for me), she had already gone through one surgery to place a shunt in her head to relieve pressure. Naturally, they shaved a small portion of her head, just around the right temple, to accomplish this. Now, the area shaved was, generously estimating, three inches by three inches. This is important, so remember it.
I don’t have any earthly idea why, but for some reason the hospital saved the hair they shaved from that patch. Even more inexplicably, they offered it to my mother. Recall that she is nuts, and it’s not so inexplicable that she said YES. And so, the second morning we were there she took possession of a sandwich baggy full of shaved hair. Yes, a Ziplock baggy. Not a freezer bag, a sandwich bag. It amounted to a fist sized ball of hair. Why I make such a big deal out of the amount of hair will be clear in a moment.
From that moment forward, that puff of hair became an obsession for Mom.
“Would you like a lock of her hair?” she asked everyone. And I mean EVERYONE. Me, my aunts, uncles, my sister’s friends, my friends, my sister’s father, anyone who showed up at the hospital to offer their thoughts and prayers. Bear in mind, my sister was still alive at this point, which, to me, made the offers of hair even more creepy.
I could ALMOST, though no quite, understand wanting a locket as some sort of strange reminder of a lost loved one–but what on Earth do you do with that? I mean, a lock of a baby’s hair goes in the baby book–that much I know. But what do you do with locks of a grown woman’s hair? Do you have it framed? Do you pull it out for guests, and relay the story of how you came to have it?
EVERYONE politely declined the offers of hair. Several times I had to tell mom to put the shit away and stop talking about it.
As my sister’s prognosis grew grimmer, mom’s hair obsession grew stronger. The clerk at the convenience store got to see it–“I’m here ’cause my daughter’s up in the ICU. I’ve got her hair–see. She always has had the thickest hair!” And out would come the baggie.
We stepped into the hospital cafeteria for a bite to eat. As we walked through the lines, trays in hand, I noticed Mom was clutching the baggie of hair.
“Put that away!! God…that’s gross! You’re gonna get it all over the food” I shouted.
“My hands are full…” she said, glassy eyed as she reached for the salad dressing.
And so the baggy of hair remained in one hand as mom went through the lines, no doubt collecting stares and complaints from the other patrons.
Back at the table, she sat the baggy of hair right between our trays.
“PUT THAT SHIT IN YOUR PURSE!” I barked
“That’s your sister’s hair!” she said, stunned that I might want to enjoy a meal without a ball of fur in front of me.
We left the cafeteria and went back to the waiting room–where my sister’s fiance’s family was waiting to see her. They asked the usual questions–how was she, how were we, what were the doctors saying.
“Would you like a lock of her hair?” Mom said, pulling the familiar baggy from her purse. “They gave this to me”
“Mom…” I said, my nerves now worn well beyond thin by this fixation over the hair. I got a blank stare. I looked to the fiance’s mother…”Would you agree that it is creepy to be carrying that hair around?”
“It really is” the mother said, declining the lock my mother was pulling from the bag. Later that evening, with the doctors telling us that she was stable, I decided to drive back to my home to get caught up on work and get some more clothes. Before I left, you guessed it–there was mom offering me a lock of hair.
“FOR THE 100TH TIME—NO!” I shouted.
“Alright, well let me know if you change your mind”
“Um, I won’t…”
That night saw my sister take a turn for the worse, and so I rushed back the next day. She passed away later that night. Two days later, we were to meet the funeral director at a relative’s house to finalize details for the service.
When we got there, mom pulled out that damned hair again–offering it to whoever would stand still long enough to hear the question. With no takers, I suggested she give it to the funeral director. There was to be an open casket, and I thought they might need to hair to hide the shaved area of her head.
“We MAY be able to use this” he said.
“Well if you don’t, I’d like to have it back.” mom said.
“FOR WHAT?” I asked.
“Lots of people would like to have a lock of it.” she said. “You, your granny, my brothers and sister…” I was fairly certain that NONE of those people wanted a lock of damned hair, but I just rolled my eyes and let it go.
Sure enough, they didn’t use the hair. I hoped they had lost it. I prayed they had just thrown it away. But no.
They gave it back to mom when we arrived for the family viewing. While the actual funeral is still a blur to me, I’m confident she was offering locks of hair to all who came.
The next time I was at her house–there sat the baggie of hair on the kitchen table.
“Somebody told me they can make a diamond out of hair.” she said. “Will you get on your computer and find out if they can?”
Sure enough, Lifegem will create a diamond from hair, cremated ashes, and God only knows what else. It turns out its ridiculously expensive to have them make a diamond for you, so mom was left with the quandry of what to do with that baggie of hair.
“Someone said I could send it to Locks of Love. They make wigs for kids with cancer.” she said the next time it came up.
“That’s a wonderful idea.” I said, “But I don’t think there’s enough there. You have to have a certain length I believe.”
“Well check on it for me.” she said, “Can you get on your computer?”
I did, and as I suspected, the Locks of Love website not only requires that the hair be ten inches long MINIMUM, they also require that it be in a braid or a ponytail, and are quite clear that shaved, loose hair is unacceptable. I relayed this to mom over the phone a few days later.
“Oh no, they told me down at the hair salon that Locks of Love would take it.” I was quite certain that no one had said any such thing, or if they had it was because they hadn’t seen the pitiful little puff of hair she was talking about. “I’m getting my hair cut again next month, and I’m gonna take it down there and they’ll send it in for me.”
““Mom, they’re not going to be able to use it, there isn’t enough.”
“They can make a wig for a small child with it.” she insisted.
“No they can’t–look, it’s not enough for a doll!”
“Well, there’s babies that get cancer–maybe they can make a wig for a baby!”
I cracked up laughing. “Mom, all babies are bald!! How on Earth would you keep a wig on a BABY!!”
Weeks later, mom called. “I sent that hair off to Locks of Love.”
“Oh good” I said, glad that the four month long hair saga seemed to be nearing it’s end.
“I had some of mine cut off to send with it”
I’d had enough of her fantasy. “Mom…they can’t use your trimmings. They want a 10 inch long braid or ponytail. They’re just gonna have to toss that mess.”
“They said they could use it.” she insisted. I’ve never figured out who “THEY” are–but “THEY” always have Mom’s back when she makes stupid decisions, needs an excuse to be lazy, shirk her duties, or comes up with a hairbrained scheme. (pardon the pun)
Sometime later, she called to say that Locks of Love had sent her a thank you card. She read it to me…an obvious boilerplate Thank You they no doubt send to everyone…that thanked the donor for their “selfless” act.
“I’m gonna have this laminated” she stated–a sure sign of an item’s importance is whether or not it is shrink wrapped in plastic, “and make you a copy to put with a lock of hair.”
“That would be great.” I said.
“I want you to get on the computer and see if you can find their phone number.” she asked.
“I just want to ask them something. Im going to start sending it to them when I get my hair cut.”
“Mom!” I was exasperated, and again repeated the requirements they have for donations.
“Well what I sent wasn’t that long or braided and they wrote me this thank you note that said how selfless I was and how it had helped a child!” I didn’t know whether to scream in frustration, laugh at her or cry. She thought the form letter was written just for her.
The next time I talked to her, she asked if I’d found that number. I made up an excuse why I hadn’t, and she said, “Well I just want to talk to someone there so they will send me a picture of the child that got the wig from her hair.”
“I’m sure they won’t do that,” I said, “and I imagine it takes hair from a few different people to make a wig.”
For the next month, she would bring up the Thank You letter, apparently forgetting that she had already read it to me. Then, no more mentions of either the hair or the charity.
“Locks of Love sent me something that says I can register to win a makeover in the city of my choice! All expenses paid!”
“That’s great” I said.
“I know I’ll win, I’m gonna send em a letter what I’ll I’ve been through in life and I know they’ll pick me!”
I made an excuse to get off the phone. There’s only so much I can take.
As I said, she’s fuggin nuts.