My Blog

September 28, 2017

Elderly Mothers and Bed Heads

Have you ever looked at the back of someone’s head when they have been sitting in a recliner for any length of time? A little like grass that a dog has circled in several times before lying down. Hair splayed out every which way.

It is a condition in which Mom finds herself all the time. I think Mom must have a cowlick in the back of her hair. No matter how hard I try to tame it, comb it with water or hair spray or mouse, it insists on sticking up in back and looking like that dog-crushed grass patch.

Worrying about Mom’s hair is probably not something I need to concern myself with. However, appearances mark the battle lines between the “Droolers,” as Mom calls them, and the upstanding citizenry of the Independent Living Community. If her hair is any indication, Mom is rapidly sliding into the “Drooler” category. Fortunately, she doesn’t know it.

Looking around the dining room, I can see that the hair styles fall into three basic categories. Few of them are found out in the “free” as we here in Prison City call the world beyond our walls. If you watch any TV, the current style is long, blonde, flat and smooth and almost invariably straightened. Hardly a curl in sight. A person would think they used an ironing board.

Not so among the elderly.

First, and probably most prevalent, is the perm. Everyone has seen the “little old ladies” with the short, tightly curled hair. No matter what they do to comb it or brush it out, tease it or smooth it, it always remains kinked into a tight cap of permanent curls. And the styles are always identical, varying only slightly in length.

And, second, are the Lady D’s. I’ve mentioned Lady D before because her hair style always looks like it came right out of the helmet-hair days of Texas Governor Ann Richards. These hair styles require regular maintenance. Teased, moussed and sprayed to a fare-thee-well, there is nary a hair out of place. The bubble of hair stands out from the head by 2 to 3 inches, very much like a football helmet. It was the style some thirty, no, forty, okay, maybe fifty years ago. Just before the days of rebellious long-hair hippies.

Then there are practical, sensible hair styles. Short, pixy, Peter Pan cuts that require no more than a quick brushing. They always look nice. Smooth and trim. Easy to care for. They require minimal maintenance, but stylish, they aren’t.

And then there is Mom. Her hair is sort of chin-length, I think. Usually she wakes up with it sticking straight up and it takes a good bit of water on the brush to get it tamed down again. If she gets to the dining room before I arrive, she goes in looking like someone did her hair with a mix-master. Embarrassing for me since it means I failed to get to her before she left the room.

She used to cut her own hair. Not certain how she did the back, but it was short enough for her to be able to comb it smooth after her daily swim. It was convenient and practical. Never needed, or got, any professional maintenance.

I tried taking her to the salon here at the Facility when we first arrived. The teased, bouffant, “do” lasted one day. She had brushed it out, or tried to, by morning. Sort of like trying to run a comb through a tangle of matted wire. Not a pretty sight. A total waste of $20.

I think perhaps we will go for the pixie look. Something similar, but shorter, than what she wore when she did her swimming. It won’t be pretty, but it will be practical. And she sure isn’t going to get a perm.

About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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