12: Hair Is Overrated

12: Hair Is Overrated

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

Hair Is Overrated

A daughter is a little girl who grows up to be a friend.

~Author Unknown

“One thing I can tell you for certain is that you will lose your hair before your second treatment. And my advice is to buzz your head before it starts to fall out. If you wait until it starts coming out, it will be in your bed, it will be in your food, it will be in your shoes. Look me in the eye. Buzz your head while you still have the power. You take control.” These words came straight from the mouth of a veteran chemo nurse, and were spoken directly to the ears of my mother, a sixty-year-old breast cancer patient. So what did we do? We did what all obedient Southern girls do. We got ready to cut some hair.

Mama got out the scissors, the hair-cutting ones, not the paper-cutting ones. Mama is particular about her scissors. Then she got out the clippers that she uses to cut Daddy’s hair. Mama is also particular about Daddy. I spread a worn floral sheet on the kitchen floor and pulled Mama’s chair in the middle of it. Mama tugged her white T-shirt over her head, exposing one bare droopy breast and one crooked angry scar.

“Are you okay with this? Can you do this?” Mama asked.

“I am and I can but I’m not promising I won’t cry.”

“No reason to cry. You know I’ve never liked my hair anyway.”

I took a deep breath and started with the scissors. A clip here, a cut there, and short ash-blond hair landed on a bed of faded purple flowers. I worked diligently like an excited cosmetology student. Then I plugged in the clippers and the loud buzz was more than Mama could stand. She insisted on wearing ear plugs while I finished my masterpiece. So there she sat, nude from the waist up, with pink and yellow ear plugs stuffed in her ears. She caught my eye and we giggled. I took a long swipe down the middle of her head. I methodically shaved off hair in perfect rows as if I’d done it a million times before. I told Mama how awesome her head looked but she couldn’t hear me. I told her shaving heads was a piece of cake but she couldn’t hear me. I told her I was fine and wasn’t crying but she couldn’t hear me.

And just as quickly as we started it was over. We were done. I ran my hands over the stubble. Mama removed her ear plugs.

Questioning blue eyes stared up at me. “How do I look?”

“You look beautiful, just like my mama. See.”

So there we were, side by side as we’d been so many times in so many situations. The mirror reflected two women who were much tougher than they gave themselves credit for. Two strong women. One with hair, one without. One a daughter, one a mother. And both with big wide matching smiles—and not a tear in sight.

~Janet H. Taylor

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