Yesterday, my wonderful husband did a task that no husband should ever have to do – shave his wife’s head. The dreaded shedding began Friday and I decided to beat cancer at its own game and take matters into my own hands. Since my head is so big (this was verified by my wig fitter and is in no way any indication of the size of my ego, which has been MIA for the last several weeks), I was unable to get all of it myself. Enter my hero hubby, John, who galliantly rode to my rescue and clipped me down to within 1/2″ of my scalp. While I shed some tears as I watch some ringlets fall, I was actually more shocked by the amount of gray in my hair. Seriously, I have the hair color of a 98 year old woman. And I should know, my grandma had the exact same color at 98.
While I’m not bald yet, it has caused me to consider exactly what beauty is. I texted my friend Cathy to tell her I was taking the plunge and she gave me a great piece of advice/warning: The face in the mirror may be one I don’t recognize. She was right. I had no idea who this buzz cut, gray haired woman was. Sure she had my eyes, but her cheekbones were higher. Her glasses looked strange and she sure did have a big head. I knew it was me, but somehow not me. The face that had stared at me for 48 years in the mirror was suddenly not my own.
What struck me the most though was how different my being bald was a polar opposite to my dad. My dad had lost most of the hair on the top of his head by the time I was in high school. First, he permed it (and I’ll never forget the look on his face when I brought home a group of friends while he was getting a perm – hilarious), then he bought a human hair toupee from one of those salon’s for men. It looked good, but it always stuck out a little bit in the back. I remember him getting his hair cut and having the hooks moved up on his head so it would look like real hair. I also remember my niece, Sarah, pulling it off his head when she was a little over a year old. The looks on both their faces was priceless.
After my dad went on disability retirement, he stopped wearing his hair piece (that’s what he called it). He’d wear it on special occasions, but that was about it. I used to laugh because he looked so young when he had it on, but when he took it off he had jowls like a bulldog. It’s like his face sagged 6 inches. He was still good looking, but not in the same way. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never seen him. I thought about posting a before and after picture of him, but that would no doubt cause him to spin in his urn.
So when I looked at myself, I guess I expected to see a bulldog. People who see me and my mom together think I look like her, and I do, to a degree. But people who see pictures of me with my dad, quickly change their mind. Not only am I a Daddy’s girl to the core inside, I’m a Daddy’s girl on the outside. Instead, I have model cheekbones for the first time in my life. I guess there is something good to this whole chemo thing.
So as I pick the shedding hairs from my sweatshirt and my mouth (yes, I am still shedding), I think that I can finally have a model face. And I hope I reflect the spirit of my dad. He had an awesome personality and faced his health issues with a sense of dignity and strength. While he sometimes felt sorry for himself, it never lasted for long. There was always something to be done and you just need to pick yourself up and do it. Move on with life and life will move you.
While bald is in for guys, it’s not so hot for chicks. However, the face in the mirror, while I don’t recognize her all the time, reflects back strength, dignity and the face of a Dad who taught his girl to be strong, no matter what the circumstance. Love you Daddy!