Saturday, February 25, 2012

Such Beautiful Hair

As I walked through the lobby, I noticed an older gentleman perched on the arm of a chair.  I probably would have walked right past without even registering his presence if it hadn't been for his beautiful snow white hair.  My dad had hair like that.  I literally shook my head, trying to dislodge the notion.  Nothing to be gained by boarding that particular thought train.

A woman walked behind him - she appeared to be around my age.  She stroked his back casually, then tousled his hair as she passed.  My innards clenched into a painful knot.  I wanted to pass behind my dad and touch his back or his hair.  He had such beautiful hair.  Not a huge hug - just a tiny touch.  A passing touch.  Nothing.  Everything.  I missed him so much in that moment that I wasn't sure if I could remember how to walk - how to breathe.

But I breathed.

And I walked.

And I functioned.  My day went on.  Life went on.  I thought about other things.  I pushed the man in the lobby to the back of my mind.

Later, though, alone in my room, I allowed my thoughts to wander back to him.  Not the man in the lobby - the man he conjured up for me.  My dad.

He wasn't  terribly demonstrative with his affections - not physically, at least.  As an adult - I could count on a hug hello and goodbye when I visited with him and not much more.  It didn't matter.  It was who he was.

When he was sick, though - when he had his stroke - I think I touched him more then than I did in my entire adult life combined.  I held his hand and he allowed it - encouraged it, even.  I stroked his hair - something I'd always wanted to do but rarely if ever did because I thought it would have made him uncomfortable.  He offered no protest.  Perhaps it was disrespectful to treat him in sickness in a way that I never would have presumed to in health.  Maybe he knew there would be no more chances.  Maybe... maybe...

I was glad the woman in the lobby had touched that man's hair.  I projected father/daughter roles onto them.  It was a hotel lobby in DC - I could have been wrong - but I like to think I'm right.  

I wish I'd tousled my dad's hair more  - just in passing.  Maybe he wouldn't have minded.

I'm going to go touch my husband's hair now.  He has such beautiful hair.

4 comments:

Polly Janos said...

Thank you for writing this. My dad suffered a stroke that affected his speech/communication skills. I live so far from him. Phone calls are difficult for him and for those calling. I think I shall go write him a nice long letter. God bless!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Lovely thoughts. Sometimes we censor our own words and actions needlessly. But I think it's wonderful that you stroked your dad's hair during his illness. I sat side-by-side with my dad on his hospital bed and gently rubbed his back, and I know it warmed both of us. Cherish the memories, even as you make new ones with your husband.

Eva Gallant said...

That was a really sweet post.

karenlucky413 said...

So lovely Tammy! My dad had beautiful hair as well. And I just saw a man yesterday who remiinded me of my dad - and it was the hair! Beautiful, thick, white hair. My dad was not overtly demonstrative either, but when he was sick, I could rub his back and take care of him and all was right with that picture. I miss him! It will be 2 years on April 24 when he celebrated his heavenly birthday.