The Show & The Shave: how it all started

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Free at last, free at last, praise God Almighty...

This is the news we have been hoping and praying for since Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and through her chemo treatments of the last several months. The biopsy is in, and Susan is cancer free!

In Susan's very own words:

The all clear on the boob was September 18th. The PHEW heard round the world. For the biopsy results to have been cancer would have been catastrophic and would have meant a big fail on the chemo....unthinkable.


She started growing her hair out and encouraged me to do the same. I'd really planned to do The Bald for a full year, but... sure, I'm in! We were bald together, now we can grow it out together.

Susan is now going through radiation treatments:

I've had 5 radiations and so far so good, just a daily hassle. Going to get an appointment in a couple of weeks to get the port out in December. Once those stitches are removed from after this operation it will be the end of a year with BC. It'll be a happy day.

And to chronical more of her comments, this time about hair:

How's your hair? Mine does not seem to be speeding up and is not the same length all over. Hmmm. Any is better than none. Hoping for some semblance of normal by Christmas...well new normal I guess. Anything odd about the new growth? My hair has always fallen right to left but very clearly is headed left to right now. Wonder if this changes?

My hair is sticking out in some spots, and flipping up in some spots. It looks dorky but I am not too worried. I also have a spot where nothing much seems to be happening, just in the back past the crown. I was right by my hairdresser today so I walked in and announced that I have hair! He wanted to clip the curls off by my ears but I said not yet. If it gets too weird there is always gel.

A lady from chemo is a couple months ahead of me hair wise and she has had no cuts. It was a little shaggy over her ears but looked cute, so I'm going to hold out and see what it is like in December. Maybe a little shaping around Christmas tho this might be wishful thinking.

As for mine, it's now in the "puffball" stage--think of a dandelion in spring when it has the white fluff sticking out all over. Except I've been experimenting with different colors, so I'm more of a serial rainbow puffball. I'll post more about that later (with pictures), plus news of my layoff notice and our trip to Ireland. (Scott and I are in the Atlanta airport as I type this, waiting for our ride to Dublin!)

In the meantime, a special prayer of gratitude for Susan's recovery. Amen!

Now: Let the good times roll and the short hair grow.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Being Bald for God's Funeral

My mother died on August 12. It wasn't unexpected. She was 97, and she'd been diagnosed with metastatic cancer in May. For most of my lifetime, our relationship had been cordial, but troubled. When I was a child, she was physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive. When she finally shed that skin, or became afraid of discovery, she improved by being merely dishonest, controlling, and manipulative. To anyone who wasn't her progeny, she was a sweet, Christian lady.

It was perhaps in the last year that I came to think of "Mother" as twofold: the Office of Motherhood, a position that is sacred, similar to President of the United States or the Dalai Lama—and the person who inhabits that office, who may or may not live up to the the holiness of the appointment. That helped me understand why some things were precious to me because they were gifts from my Mother, even as that person was someone for whom I had little respect.

There's also the twist that in the psychology of child mind, our parents are God—or so I've read—because they have been present throughout our personal eternity. I'm certain that mine is not the most complex set of feelings anyone has had to deal with upon the death of a parent; but I was nevertheless grateful that in traveling to my mother's funeral, I had my dog Emma and two thousand miles of driving for therapy.

I hadn't visited my hometown, Guymon America, since The Shave. I felt a bit awkward with my very un-Guymonish appearance, but not to the extent I had expected. When my sister Jo and I were at the Sonic drive-in, a lady rolled down her window to tell me I looked beautiful.

Mother's funeral was well suited to her. It highlighted good and interesting parts of her and her life without suggesting sainthood. As my sisters and I stood in front of the congregation, singing Amazing Grace, I briefly wondered about looking weird as the "bald daughter". My next thought was, "Who cares? This is so not about me and hair." 

The best part of the service was the police escort from the church to the cemetery. With one squad car in the lead and one in the rear, both with lights flashing and a couple of policemen along the road directing traffic, our procession was carefully ushered the three miles to the burial site. Without exception, every car along the way pulled off to the side of the road, and some people even got out of their cars, took off hats, bowed their headsnot necessarily because they knew my mother, but because they have respect. I know that would have been Mother's favorite part of a send-off that was good throughout.

So now... the grieving. I was doing a writing exercise a couple evenings ago, and this was the result.

Sweet Spot

This is akin to admitting I still like someone I had a crush on in high school who had bad teeth, acne, misogyny in his heart, and no good on his mind. Except it's not about some bad boy from my past. It's about my mother.

There was a time—a relatively brief time—I really enjoyed her company. She was so proud of her job as an Avon lady and having her own money. My classes finished for the day, we would regularly go to the Pancake House and eat pie and drink coffee and visit. I liked her then—the mother who had abused me as a child and who would become such a disappointment in my adulthood. I treasure that sweet spot in our history. I liked her. And I miss her.