February 23, 2011

Steps on the Journey

Mom's hair was long, dark like coal.  As a small child, I stood behind her, awkwardly holding the large hair brush.  Tightfisted, I move the brush down, pulling slightly, scalp rising, hair taunt.  She doesn't cringe, but gently says, "I use to brush my mommy's hair when I was your age.  Styling it with barrettes and ponytails, too."  Smiling, I admire the soft, coal rivers adorned with ribbons of colors.  Mommy was young, like me, and did this, too, I think to myself.

...a different day...

Cascading white hair hangs.  Wondrous waves cresting her aged shoulders.  She rests in a bed so high a stool stands abreast its long side.  At four, my eyes barely summit the high edge, a looming mountainous sight of a bed.  I'm told I rolled over that very edge when I was but a tiny babe, landing on the hard wide planked floor, unhurt, but scaring Mom and Dad.  I peer, wide eyed, over that edge with the story, and kind eyes greet me.  She's my great-grandma, an ancient beauty radiating peace.

Mom shoes us through the dark wooden door to the living room.  She cares for her grandma, the very same grandma who cared for her when she was a young lady.  Her grandma and grandpa opening their farm home and lives to a young lady on the cusp of womanhood and marriage.  Now, Mom is the caretaker, giving time and energy to nurse the ones who cared for her. 

My sister and I set up our dolls on the hard floor.  Sitting cross legged, we take our dolls and brush through their thick, synthetic, dirt colored hair.  

I hear them talking softly.  My eyes lift from the playing to the door set ajar.  I peer through the opening.  Wide eyed, I watch.  Mesmerized, I silently memorize the partially revealed scene.  Mom's long black curls, deep as coal, starkly contrasting Great-Grandma's pure, crisp white as fresh snow tresses.  Mom lightly holds the brush to Great-Grandma's scalp.  Tenderly with long strokes she combs, gently unbinding the knots of sleep tousled hair.  Freely the hair falls back into place, delicately skimming her rounded shoulders.

A wrinkled face witnesses my stares.  She smiles, beauty and grace bound together.  Shyly, I smile back.  At four years old, I'm too little to understand the gravity of the disease that took her legs and independence.

I turn to look at my sister quietly stroking her doll's hair.  She's my twin, identical in all appearances, especially in our youth.   So difficult are we to distinguish as children, no mirror is needed.  We sit facing one another, an eerie reflection of crossed legs, dolls on laps, and brushes in hand; simultaneously, learning to care for another.

Generations pass from girlhood dolls and brushes, to young ladies nurtured by grandparents, to motherhood tenderness, to womanhood nursing the aged.  Constantly moving forward, this passage of time moves with us all through the stages; each day changing each one of us ever so slightly, until we awake one day and take notice.  I am no longer part of the pair of little girls with dolls and brushes in hand, sitting on the floor, waiting for Mom.

Instead, this morning, I pick up a brush and gently guide it through my daughter's sleep knotted hair.  When I am done, she picks up her doll, dressed for the day, and begins brushing her hair...Both of us taking a step forward in this journey of being a woman.

Today, I am linking this post to Walk With Him Wednesdays at A Holy Experience.
This week's discussion topic is time.


  1. Beautifully spoken memories and sharings.

  2. Hey,, I kind of thought we were friends.. could ya add a tissue warning at the beginning of this post??? :)

    So beautifully written. I am honored to have read it and will treasure the hair brushing just a bit more because of you!

  3. What a lovely tribute to all of the moms in your life... It brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart. Thanks for your beautiful words today.

    Feel free to check out my blog anytime.

  4. So lovely. Your post reminded of an old photo I have of my grandmother braiding my great-grandmother's hair. My daughter and I both have long hair and you have inspired me.

  5. And, that is what is missing when there are no daughters in the home! Beautiful! Just Beautiful!

  6. I’m here from Anne’s today

    Yes, how the generations speak of a time that does not stop – but continues to wash over us. Oh my what a picture you have painted with your words.

    I truly enjoyed reading this.

    God Bless you and all of yours


Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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