brotherpeacemaker

It's about our community and our spirituality!

Mom Now Has Kinky Hair

Last year I discovered that my mom has cancer. She had been complaining about her extended abdomen. I thought that she was just being vain and that she had the typical physique of a lot of women on the verge of becoming an octogenarian. But one Friday about a year ago she started complaining of severe pain and she was rushed to the emergency room. That was early in the afternoon. The hospital staff ran all kinds of test. As the hours got longer the rest of the family went home. My son had to be fed and put to bed. I stayed with my mom in the examination room. I remember feeling queasy and inept. I didn’t want to be there. But my mom began to gag violently and I had to push my discomfort aside to help her. Whatever she needed I made sure I got for her. And if I couldn’t do it, I found someone who could.

Late that evening they admitted her to the hospital. It was a long day. I escorted her to her room and made sure she was as comfortable as she could possibly be. I left late in the evening. But I was back early the next day. Late Saturday morning we received the news. Mom had a very aggressive form of ovarian cancer. Without immediate intervention she would pass within a few weeks. Surgery was not an option. Our mother would spend the next two weeks in the hospital. Arrangements were made for our mother to go on chemotherapy. The treatments started about a month after that trip to the emergency room.

After the second of seven treatments my mom’s hair began to fall out. Her hair was already thinning. She religiously rolled her hair up every night and would go to the hairdresser to get her hair done. Like most women, my mom’s hair helped to shape her identity. Exorcised of even the slightest kink my mom wore her hair with an artificial curl imposed by dozens of those spongy little hair rollers donned nightly. After the third treatment the chemo made my mom was totally bald.

Like just about everybody who goes through the cancer treatment my mom turned to wigs. My sisters helped her pick out a couple. One got quickly kicked to the curb. I don’t think I ever saw it. The other wig, the only one I can recall ever seeing, was a dark grey number peppered with white and black strands. Its strands were straight and it was long enough to fall to the nape of her neck and looked totally false. I hated seeing her in it. I would’ve preferred her to go without it. But I kept my opinion to myself. Thankfully, she didn’t wear it in the house. She only wore it when she went back and forth to her therapy sessions.

And like a lot of people who had hair before the chemotherapy, mom’s hair quickly came back once the treatments stopped. What initially looked like white peach fuzz on a little brown peach quickly turned into a beautiful little white afro complete with every kink she’s avoided for almost eighty years. My mom developed an appreciation for her natural hair that she never had before. Now, when she goes to sleep, she doesn’t go through the ritual of rolling her processed hair. She simply goes to sleep. Now, instead of spending a few hours at the hairdresser every other week, she simply washes her hair and then combs it out.

My mom recently went on a trip to visit my sister. It’s good to see her traveling again. While she was at my sister’s house, my sister offered to do my mom’s hair for her. By that, I’m thinking that my sister offered to perform whatever process black women go through to remove the kink from their hair. My sister is a true devotee to the straightened hair life. She is my mother’s child. Just like my mom was my grandmother’s child. Granny’s hair was long and straight. And her only daughter, my mom, inherited my grandfather’s nappy hair. And my grandmother was the type of person that didn’t get over disappointment very easily. I’m sure she impressed on my mom the benefits of straight hair. The apples known as my mom and my sister didn’t fall far from granny’s tree. The disdain our mother was taught for kinky hair on top of a black woman’s head was transferred to sis. A kinky strand of hair has a better chance of surviving a bath in the strongest vat of lye than it does existing on sis’ head. My sister does her own hair in her own bathroom in front of a mirror. So it would probably be a piece of cake for her to do mom’s hair.

But our mother wouldn’t have it. She appreciated the offer but said no thanks. Mom loves the fact that she doesn’t have to worry about her hair. She can sleep on it with virtually no preparation. Her hair can now get wet with absolutely no repercussions. My mom has been liberated. Even with the successful conclusion of the chemotherapy treatments our mom’s time with us will be short. The cancer has not been defeated, it has only been delayed. It has been beaten back, but eventually it will come back even more aggressive than before. The last thing mom needs is to waste the little time she has left here on this plane of existence doing her hair. She might be a late convert, but mom now understands the beauty of her natural hair.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts

14 Comments »

  1. When my cousin went through her chemos with her cancer, she felt the same way once she was finished. And this was a woman who would drive one hour – each way – to get her hair done every Saturday! Congrats on your mom taking back her life.

    L

    Comment by lola gets | Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback lola gets,

      It just goes to show that when it comes to matters of hair, the only thing black women may fear is fear itself.

      Peace

      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Reply

  2. BPM, that’s a beautiful story. Bless you for posting it, and for the lesson.

    I lost my dad to cancer some years ago, so I have a vague notion (‘cos it’s never the same) of what you might be experiencing. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

    Jeff

    Comment by Jeff | Friday, June 11, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Jeff,

      Another good thing about this experience is that we have the time to put things in order. Now if we’d only take full advantage of it.

      Peace

      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, June 11, 2010 | Reply

  3. Sorry to hear about your mom’s cancer…I’ve lost a few too it. the only funny thing I could draw from my dad’s dad going through Chemo was that he lost enough hair for 2 guys, and STILL had a full head of hair. (it seems to be a Lovell male trait, which irks me, cuz I’d prefer to have much thinner hair that didn’t grow so fast)

    I guess at this point, everyone just needs to appreciate the time and people they have left in their life. Sounds like your mom is!

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Friday, June 11, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

      Your hair might be irking you now…but you’ll learn to appreciate it no matter what (lol)…

      Peace

      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, June 11, 2010 | Reply

  4. I am sorry to hear your mom is seriously ill, but it made me smile to read what you wrote about her.

    Comment by blueollie | Friday, June 11, 2010 | Reply

  5. Wonderful story! I will offer a prayer to your Mom and your family for strength and peace of mind during this difficult period.

    Comment by asabagna | Saturday, June 12, 2010 | Reply

  6. Hi Brother! I’m sorry to hear about your Mom’s illness. I lost my dad to prostate cancer three years ago. I too love the story of your mom’s discovering her natural beauty. It’s never too late and once a black woman discovers it, it’s hers and she doesnt have to justify, or explain it.
    Much love and strength to you and your family as you lovingly care for your precious mom.

    Comment by Anna Renee | Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Reply

  7. My father was diagnosed w/ colon cancer when he was 35 back in ’87. Unfortunately it runs so heavy in the family that every 5 years since I was 25 I have to get a colonscopy…. it sucks but its better than the alternative.

    Six years ago I re-discovered the freedom and beauty of my napptural hair and haven’t looked back.

    Comment by Paula | Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Reply

  8. I’ll be praying for your mother’s recovery.

    Comment by Paula | Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Paula,

      I appreciate the support!

      Peace

      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Reply

  9. O-O-Omy goodness Brotherpeacemaker,I am just sitting here trying to imagine how liberating this reality must be for your Mother now that so much time and finances of life are no longer spent unduing a part of who we naturally are.

    You constantly return to us with rewarding stories that remind us that we are off track in some aspect of life. In this case it is defining ourselves by texture of hair on the head.

    May your Mother’s recovery be Peaceful and complete.
    May you be blessed with whatever you need to see yourselves through this change Harmoniously.

    Know that your postings do make a difference.

    Comment by Akinwole | Saturday, June 19, 2010 | Reply


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