Hair, There and Nowhere
by Gina Capristo-Gajdosik
By the time my mother passed away in a nursing home at the age of eighty-seven, she had long ago lost all her hair. The process started when she was in her fifties, but long before this she had always worried about her hair, and how it would fair later in life. She made me promise her that I would make sure she had her hair done when she was old, most especially when she was in the casket. Mom wasn’t morbid, just realistic, but we thought she was being silly; after all she had a huge head of hair!
Back in the Seventies, mom and all her contemporaries went to get their hair done every single week at Worth’s Beauty Shop in Waterbury, CT. The shop was on the top floor and I would often go with her and wait while her hairdresser washed and then teased, before spraying the “Aquanet” on my mom’s light, brown hair. As time passed, Mom’s hair got much thinner and she blamed it on a strict diet she was on, but I’ve never heard of anyone losing hair instead of weight on a diet. Her hair never really returned to the way it once was, even though she did her best to deal with it. We bought her wigs, which were usually crooked and unkempt, most especially when she was in the nursing home. One time, I arrived and saw her in the lounge looking like one of the Beatles; the wig fell down below her brow line, her brows were also long-gone by now, as well.
I often think, in some way, that wig was her lifeline to normalcy. Mom was somewhat vain about her appearance; she had more clothes than anyone I’d ever met. When she would buy a new blouse, she would get it in three colors. She loved nice things and she was incredibly social so she wore all her clothes and always tried to look her best. In the end, we didn’t hold a wake for her, so it never mattered that she was bald, since she was cremated and there was no casket for viewing. On the day of her funeral, an extremely psychic cousin told us she saw our mom in church, attending her own funeral. The way she described Mom’s appearance to me was clear; she had a full head of hair and was wearing a pink dress. This is the wedding photo that sits on my nightstand; I am in my wedding gown and pinning a corsage on her “Mother of the Bride” dress.
Today, while I was drying my hair, I saw my scalp underneath my once exceptionally thick, brown hair. I panicked. What if this is my fate? Is losing your hair hereditary? If so, I have decided long ago that purposeful bald is better than any wig. I will shave my head and wear bald, proudly, maybe even get a few tattoos. No one would dare mess with me.
Recently, a friend recommended Biotin. I ran right out and purchased a bottle. She said: “It’s better to take it while you still have hair, don’t wait until it’s gone.” She also said I should beware; “hair will grow everywhere, not just on your head.”