Since losing mom 10 years ago, the words “Mother’s Day” always get stuck in my throat even when they’re just floating around in my head mixed with the other flakes in the snowglobe. For several reasons directly related to mom, which may or may not be shared along the journey, let’s say that stepping into the world of blogging today, on Mother’s Day, is pretty significant in my ever expanding world.
Some background on the evolution of “Shaking the Snowglobe” … Constantly amazed at how the most seemingly random thoughts float up into my consciousness, I’ve been referring to my head as being “like a snowglobe” for years. Sometimes there are a few of these “flakes” of thought, sometimes flurries, other times full out blizzards. Sometimes the flakes are fun, sometimes painful and sometimes just plain weird. But they’re always mine, always stimulated by something I see or hear, and they always catalyze my thoughts toward a connection with a larger sphere of learning; a bigger picture as I continue on my own road of evolution.
Over the past few years it’s become increasingly clear that, if I intentionally shake the snowglobe simply by being more open to the environment, good days and bad, an interesting flake (or two, or seven) floats up demanding to be seen and played with. What’s really interesting is that, sometimes, when I’m not paying attention, a little snowball hits me in the head. And unlike the past when I dismissed the flakes and the spiritually creative challenges they represented, I’m now choosing to play with the them; to sculpt and now share my snow figures.
But more about that on another day. On to the actual post I came here to share today.
Several weeks ago, while sitting in my car reading and waiting for the alternate side parking rules to change, “mom had pink hair when she died” floated up into the snow globe. What the heck?!?! Where did that come from? It seemed to come out of nowhere and the only thing I could remotely relate it to was that I’d touched up the color in my own hair a few days prior. Too much of a stretch. No analysis necessary. It was simply a curiously interesting flake to be played with; an idea to delve into. So I dropped the Nook, pulled out the iPhone and started making notes.
Early this morning, in honor of Mother’s Day, I finished this first draft of what will be something larger and deeper. Enjoy.
Mom had pink hair when she died. Not cotton candy pink but more like beige with pink overtones. Imagine the pink side of the color wheel’s answer to the “blue hair” ladies. It wasn’t always that color, though. Jet black (or Roux Blue Jet) was the color of choice for mom and her sisters back when I was a kid. And every Saturday, like clockwork, mom would drag me to the beauty parlor where “Aunt” Rose would sometimes touch up the color but always tease and spray her short hair, augmented with a small hairpiece, into the latest style. It was absolute magic, as far as I was concerned, to see mom’s short hair and that rat like thing woven artistically into a beehive. Back in the early 60’s I think every woman had one of those little rat like hairpieces tucked safely in a shoe box after washing it the night before the trip to the beauty parlor.
In addition to being a fashionable hair style, mom’s beehive came in handy as a prop for dad from time to time. He was a live wire who loved entertaining everyone with jokes and was at his best when punctuating the stories with crazy gestures or speech impediments. And in addition to the jokes, whenever we had company, you could always count on dad to find just the right moment to sneak up behind mom and stealthily blow cigarette smoke into the open top of her beehive which made her head look like a smoking volcano. She knew the drill and would roll her eyes while everyone howled with laughter.
Her hair was jet black, highly teased and lacquered for a long time when I was a kid and, at some point, she started dying it herself. She’d send me to the beauty supply store for the small blue box containing Roux Blue Jet and a bottle of Peroxide. The smell of peroxide is tucked in my snow globe head and, on occasion, floats out into the memory bubble. And, after the beehive and the highly teased styles had gone out of style, mom started cutting her own hair keeping it Mia Farrow short for the rest of her time on the planet.
Although her hair stayed the same basic shape, the color changed through the years. Somewhere along the line came the news that “you should go lighter as you get older.” So, in the 70s, mom’s hair went from jet black to a reddish brown. There’s a really nice picture of mom with her short reddish brown hair, dad and me on the day of my graduation from college. In the 80s, not long before she and dad headed to retirement in Florida, she finally decided to see if blondes had more fun. The change was very drastic but her blonde hair had a nice rich beige tone.
Once she was in Florida, she settled back into the beauty parlor routine. LouAnn, her beautician, started using a new color on her hair. Beige toned blonde with the pink overtone. I think it was a “thing” down there … but I could just be making that up at the moment. All I know is that when she told me about her new hair color on the phone, I only heard “my hair is pink.” I wondered, “who are you and what have you done to my mother???” But when I eventually saw it, she really looked sweet and it was actually a better color for her complexion than the reddish brown ever was.
The Florida days were good to them and, as a pink blonde in their senior development, she really did have fun. She started driving again and was “hell on wheels” down there. I didn’t like talking to her when she was driving because, if she looked at me, the wheel turned in the direction she was looking and we veered sideways. It was scary and funny. And, since she had a car and tons of malls to visit, she shopped like a maniac. Which wasn’t new, she just had more territory to cover, tons of malls to visit and sales to follow, in Florida. She shopped so much that, when I was cleaning out the house, I found doubles of several outfits in different closets in the house.
From the time I was a kid it was clear to me that mom was a proud woman. Meticulous about her appearance, she was quite fashionable, always had something “on lay away” at one of the neighborhood boutiques, and had enough clothing, accessories and shoes so that repeat outfits didn’t happen for what seemed to be months. She was always dressed up, even when she went to the factory to work on sewing children’s clothing. Her house dresses were fashionable as were her gold heeled slippers for lounging around in the house. Whenever you opened her closet door, shoes and bags that were stuffed inside would come tumbling out screaming for air. Come to think of it, whenever you opened her freezer, meat would come tumbling out too. So you had to stand with your feet kind of off to the side or in a spread eagle position to avoid having your toes broken by hundreds of pounds of frozen pork butt that would eventually become home made sausage.
In Florida there were avalanches, too. But, with more closet space, her clothes and shoes could’ve outfitted the neighborhood (and that’s only a mild exaggeration, believe me). Whenever I visited, waitresses at their favorite spot, Bob Evans Restaurant, would always say to me “We love when your momma and daddy come in here, they’re so much fun! And we love seein’ how your momma is dressed … and THOSE HEELS! How the hail does she walk around in those heels all the time??” Her clothes and heels were a huge hit in Ocala.
I guess the biggest avalanche happened when both of them got sick. Mom’s rapidly deteriorating condition presented first, she was in and out of hospitals and rehabs and nursing facilities and my trips down south were much more frequent. But she was always dressed up for the day, wherever she was, and her hair was always done … LouAnn took care of her making sure her hair looked nice … and it made mom feel better. Until it was hard for her to feel better.
As the nursing home stays lengthened and rehab periods became more intense, she was forced to wear sneakers and sweat pants which was a drastic change. She NEVER wore sneakers, EVER. I didn’t realize it then but her pride was peeling away and something else was blossoming in its place. And then her condition started to worsen and the drive to get dressed up waned. And then she needed to be transported in a wheel chair. And then she completely stopped getting dressed for the day. And then she stopped having her hair done but kept it combed. And then she started getting gray but there was no touching up. And then she started getting really weak needing to be fed and initially hating it. And although her physical body was breaking down, her spirit; her will to hang on stayed strong.
And then dad died.
And then we flew home.
And then she died.
And then … she was dressed up again, completely, with those heels adorned with colorful, cute appliqué flowers (which I almost kept for myself but I KNEW I’d NEVER wear them) on her feet.
And she had pink hair.