Sunday, May 13, 2012

i have known good mothers

It was the fall after my stillborn and my mother thought it would be good for me to get away. I flew down to Blythe alone and after a few days there she and I drove over to St. David to visit Grandma Rose. It was good to spend time with these women, their words could heal and soothe. Grandma and mother had perfected the rare art of 'wisdom banter', mundane and seemingly trivial conversation that is randomly interspersed with nuggets of profundity. So it happened on the second morning that we were there Grandma asked how I was feeling. I told her I was fine, perfectly fine. And I was. Physically, anyway. She nodded her head slowly. Then Grandma hopped up from the table abruptly and went back into the spare bedroom and brought out her latest craft. "They showed us how to make these in Relief Society last month. They sure are clever, aren't they?" Sure enough. The purse made out of a yellow placemat was indeed clever. "We could make some while you're here". "I would like that", I said. And then she talked about going into town later, about Uncle John and how his leg had been bothering him. She talked about lettuce being on sale. Then she ran her fingers through her gray wispy hair and sighed sadly. "I sure could use a haircut. The gal that cuts my hair is out of town for two weeks. I look like a wild woman of Borneo".
Mother assured her she looked fine but offered to wash and curl her hair for her. Then all of a sudden Grandma's face lit up and she turned to me. "You could cut my hair, Candace". Just like that things happened so fast. Despite my mother shaking her head from side to side and silently mouthing the words "NO" and despite the fact that I had absolutely no experience at all in cutting hair, Grandma procured some scissors out of the drawer and plopped down in the old dining chair. I covered her neck with a towel and began. Grandma kept talking. "My it's been rainy" and "Aunt Luella got a new mop" and "it is unbelievable what is on TV these days". Meanwhile I snipped and snipped. Hadn't a clue what I was doing but no matter, I was totally engaged in the work. Once and a while I would look up at my mother and see her horrified expression. But I kept on cutting, the gray hair falling into heaps on the floor. Grandma kept up her banter. Then it became pitifully obvious. I glanced over at my mother again and instead of horror her lips started to twitch. She was trying very hard not to smile. I worked harder and faster. When Grandma mentioned "the Lord moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform', I made eye contact with my mom again. She was snickering silently, her hand covering her mouth. Once in a while a sound would escape.
Then all of a sudden I started laughing uproariously. We laughed, my mom and I, until we cried and my grandma, my sweet little Grandma pretended not to notice. She scarcely drew breath and kept up her monologue. It's true. I butchered Grandma's hair. And afterward, when the hair was swept up and the comb and scissors put away, she thanked me and said I did a fine job. Even when she looked in the mirror, mother and I were holding onto our sides. Days later when we got into the car to return home, Grandma stood on her porch waving in her double knit housedress and bravely wearing the most ridiculous haircut imaginable. Oh, how I miss these fine women. They were wonderful mothers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, did you cut Alfred's hair too. It never grew back.