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.


Unknown 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!

Nancy/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.

Unknown 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.