all hanging in a row,
each one tied
with a brightly
combs my hair
from: Just Like Mama
by: Leslea Newman (illus. by Julia Gorton)
My grandmother usually wore a wig. It changed over the years from brown to “salt and pepper” and finally silver. She had diphtheria when she was small, leaving her hair so very thin. Not many people saw her without her wig. But I was lucky. It was part of her real look.
My mother had long hair when I was growing up. Beautiful waves frame her youthful face in the wedding picture I have on my wall. I suspect she never wore a braid.
When I was growing up, my mom braided my hair. First the ponytail, smoothed down with a damp comb, then the rubberband. She did not use the coated ouchless ones. I sat on the closed toilet seat while Mom sat on the thin edge of the tub and braided down to the skinny tip at the middle of my back, securing it with another non-ouchless rubberband. In the evening the whole process went in reverse. Sometimes I had two braids, and they were always secured at the top. I didn’t like the part when the top rubberbands came out. Ouch. I wondered if my hair would ever be as thin as Grandma's. But I was lucky. I had braid-created waves all evening.
Both of my daughters had long hair when they were young. Ouchless rubberbands had been invented by then, so their braids came out easily.
My granddaughters both had long hair and braids, too. Recently, my older granddaughter broke with a tradition she didn’t even know our family had. My younger granddaughter still loves to wear an Elsa braid.
It lives in the braided history we share, tying us together with stories we tell each other and new stories we are writing now.
I’m still feeling the silvery afterglow of Mother’s Day. Even though both of my girls spent their days with their own families, I know we’re woven together--tight, and mostly ouchless. --stay curious!