Saturday, May 26, 2012

I Feel Pretty

I shaved the last of my sister's hair off today, sitting in her kitchen, another sister beside us. I've never used electric hair clippers, and was quite leery of the process, and looked up some how-to videos on YouTube, which helped not at all.

So I figured out how to put the guard on, and went to it. The unit has a tiny vacuum chamber attached, so the shorn locks are sucked directly into it. Handy, that. No clumps of hair scattered underfoot. I was slow and careful, getting the feel of the thing, careful not to injure my sister in any way. Had to stop several times, and we hugged her and stroked her emerging scalp.

And damn, she looked great — blessed with good bones and strikingly blue eyes. She spent some time in front of a hand mirror, getting used to it. I asked my other sister if maybe we should shave our heads too, in solidarity. We considered it, more than for just a moment. Opted out. (Chickened out.)

What we saw, after all was tidied up, tears dried, was that L. looks surprisingly like our mother. Astonishing, really, because for 59 years she's been the spitting image of our paternal Aunt Mary. It's amazing what a dearth of hair reveals.

And then I told my sisters to listen up, because I wanted to play something for them on my iPhone, a YouTube video. Listen up:


  1. There's something very powerful about the scene you've written here -- and I know it's not a "scene," but a painful -- albeit powerful -- slice of your life. You are amazing women, I'm sure.

  2. t., this post, somehow is so uniquely you. such a revealing scene, but crafted with such love and care and with all the emotion trusted to the reader.

  3. How wonderful and courageous of you both to execute this act of kindness for your sister. I'm reminded of my sister's friend, a lebanese woman, who lovingly washed her mother's body in preparation for burial.
    Women loving and caring for other's what we do.

  4. Yes to all the above. What we come to that we can't ever imagine... women/our hair ... to think of being separated from it... And oh, I love West Side Story and that song. Good choice to play afterwards. God Bless you and your sister.

  5. I work at a cancer clinic and see many bald women and men. It seems without hair a person's true beauty shines through.

  6. I shaved my head to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society when my mom was going through treatment. I loved how it felt but I was not sick and had done it by choice. It is indeed awful to have your hair fall out in clumps so I am glad you did this for her.

  7. i am so deeply moved by this, by the sisters together, holding and hugging and stroking the one in the chair, loving each other through it all. You remind me of my mother and her five sisters, and there is such beauty in your bond. On Saturday, as you were doing this, one of my aunts, age 86, was cutting the hair of my other aunt, age 93. There was such power and beauty in the practical caring for. Women together. Sisters.

    Thank you for sharing this moment.