Everything Changes

 

Today I visited the woman who made me bald. Well, that’s not totally true. When my hair began to fall out in clumps, which is a really gross experience, I figured I would look less gross as a bald woman. So, I called Karen, my hairdresser to take it off—take it all off.

To digress for a moment, Karen is a very special person (although she might deny my description of her). She is a devoted Christian, a firm conservative and is fearless about speaking what is true for her. One day a couple of years ago I mentioned I was a Jew. She was delighted to hear it; her eyes lit up with anticipation. That very day she asked me if she could ask me questions about Judaism, and I said, of course! I can’t remember what our first conversation was about, but I do remember the tenor of our exchange. Her curiosity, follow-on questions, and even her comments about the practices of Christianity and how they related to Judaism (or didn’t) were steeped in sincerity and delight. Never once did I feel uncomfortable about her questions or motives.

From that day forward, we often spoke about the holidays that we were both celebrating, the specific practices and how they were observed. Both of us would mull over what we were learning from each other and ask more questions to make sure we understood. It was the highlight of our time together, as she snipped through my hair. I realized that I was getting to know a person who lived her faith and wasn’t uncomfortable speaking with another person who was engaged with a different faith, but who was respectful of, and fascinated by our differences.

The day I went in to have all my hair cut off, Karen was less perky than usual, understandably. She knew how much I enjoyed working with my own hair, and that removing it was going to be a big adjustment for me. My husband was with me that day, too, for moral support. She used scissors to cut off the majority of my hair, and I watched out of the corner of my eye as the clumps drifted to the floor. She then shifted to a razor, cutting off layers in stages. I honestly think she knew that as layers were removed, my clinging to my former appearance would also drop away. Layer by layer, I saw my appearance transformed, with my loving husband and my faith partner standing strong with me.

And then she was done. My husband commented what a nice shape my head was. Karen reassured me that I looked good. I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that something was revealed in that process besides my bald pate. That as much as I loved my hair, I wasn’t my hair. That my hair was not gone, but only temporarily absent. That one day it would grow back, and my transformation would become a process of not becoming who I was before, but a new me would emerge, one who had gone through the trials of cancer and come out with a renewed sense of life and death. When I asked what her fee was (since it had taken a while), she waved my question away. It was her gift to me.

Today I went with Jerry to see Karen (since he was due for a haircut). She insisted on putting on a mask before we gave each other a hug. She admired my new look (with my hair growing out) and the silver color—I told her not to get too attached to the color because it could change.

Just like everything changes.

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There are 33 comments.

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  1. Hugh Member
    Hugh
    @Hugh

    Great post.

    My mom loved to have a wig once her hair thinned out completely.  She said it was so much easier to take care of her hair when she could hold it in front of her in her lap.

    • #1
  2. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase
    @JimChase

    Love this post, Susan! 

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hugh (View Comment):

    Great post.

    My mom loved to have a wig once her hair thinned out completely. She said it was so much easier to take care of her hair when she could hold it in front of her in her lap.

    Haha! That’s great! I’ll bet she had a good sense of humor, too. Since I knew mine would grow back, I didn’t go the “wig route.”

    • #3
  4. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    A very fine post, Susan!

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    A very fine post, Susan!

    Thanks, Gary. From you, that’s high praise.

    • #5
  6. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Awww, let’s face it…I love Jewish gals with eyeglasses!

    (My wife and me, 46 years ago)

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Awww, let’s face it…I love Jewish gals with eyeglasses!

    (My wife and me, 46 years ago)

    You two are so cute! And so 60’s!

    • #7
  8. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Lovely post Susan. I wish I could say I cut what’s left of my hair so that it less than a sixteenth of an inch in length in solidarity with you.

    I have two selfish reasons. The first decision had to do with paying for Rogaine, or green fees. Golfing won out. The second was that I could grow enough hair to have a samurai pig tail. That’s not for me, it would be like wearing a polyester shirt, and sporting two or three gold chains around my neck. I try to avoid clothing that has a label stating; “No open flame within 10 feet.”

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Lovely post Susan. I wish I could say I cut what’s left of my hair so that it less than a sixteenth of an inch in length in solidarity with you.

    I have two selfish reasons. The first decision had to do with paying for Rogaine, or green fees. Golfing won out. The second was that I could grow enough hair to have a samurai pig tail. That’s not for me, it would be like wearing a polyester shirt, and sporting two or three gold chains around my neck. I try to avoid clothing that has a label stating; No open flame within 10 feet.”

    Woo-hoo! Too funny!I would love to have seen that pigtail, though!

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Yep.  My mother wore a wig during treatment.  When she stopped treatment, her hair grew back.  However, she kept the wig just in case . . .

    • #10
  11. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Susan, I’ve been meaning to comment on how much I admire your new avatar. It seems to reflect you attitude toward life. You are a great asset to this site, and I always look forward to reading your insights into what’s happening.

    • #11
  12. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    I remember shaving my wife’s head when she went through chemo. Giving my beautiful bride a Kojak haircut is not something I ever imagined doing, but such is life. My daughter was three at the time and bald mommy was not something she liked so the scarf or wig was almost always worn. I did manage to take a pictures of her bald. Still pretty cute . . . but better with hair.

    • #12
  13. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    What a lovely post. I feel certain Karen was placed in your life on purpose. What a wonderful relationship to have. 

    My mother hated wearing the wig. She said it was too hot. Only wore it to church. She opted for a hat when a covering was necessary. 

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Susan, I’ve been meaning to comment on how much I admire your new avatar. It seems to reflect you attitude toward life. You are a great asset to this site, and I always look forward to reading your insights into what’s happening.

    Thanks so very much, Jim. As my “do” grows out, I’ll update the photo. 

    • #14
  15. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Susan, this might be the best post you’ve ever, uh, posted. Chock full of humanity and human details. I enjoyed it immensely. 

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, this might be the best post you’ve ever, uh, posted. Chock full of humanity and human details. I enjoyed it immensely.

    Now my head is definitely swelling! Thanks so much, Kent. From you, that is high praise. Thinking of your daughter, too.

    • #16
  17. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    I loved the story about your Christian hairdresser.  God has made a covenant with the Jewish people and Jews are equal in God’s eyes to Christians.  You are our older brothers and sisters.  God bless you.

    • #17
  18. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Susan, I’ve been meaning to comment on how much I admire your new avatar. It seems to reflect you attitude toward life. You are a great asset to this site, and I always look forward to reading your insights into what’s happening.

    Me too.  They are always good and usually very good.  But for me, not all of Susan’s posts are as good as this one.  It was special.

    • #18
  19. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Awww, let’s face it…I love Jewish gals with eyeglasses!

    (My wife and me, 46 years ago)

    You two are so cute! And so 60’s!

    Well if we are going to share mushy picture from the 70’s here is my wife in 1976. We were not married yet (college first dear), interestingly she always wears her glasses, yet not in this picture.

    • #19
  20. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Wife did fine with the wigs. Had two.  But hair grew back quickly and then she regretted buying the second one. 

    • #20
  21. StChristopher Member
    StChristopher
    @JohnBerg

    Love this post. Cancer, or any serious illness, strips us of what’s not important and focuses us on what is.  Like your hair falling away in the beauty shop, so too the vanities of life fell away from importance.  Your friendships and supporting husband were close to your heart, your hair was on the floor. God Bless and prayers for your continued health. 

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    StChristopher (View Comment):

    Love this post. Cancer, or any serious illness, strips us of what’s not important and focuses us on what is. Like your hair falling away in the beauty shop, so too the vanities of life fell away from importance. Your friendships and supporting husband were close to your heart, your hair was on the floor. God Bless and prayers for your continued health.

    Thank you, @johnberg. One of the sweetest gifts a person can receive is to know one is truly heard and understood. Thank you.

    • #22
  23. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Well God bless Karen and you too Susan. It will grow back!  Continued improvement to good health. 

    • #23
  24. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Awww, let’s face it…I love Jewish gals with eyeglasses!

    (My wife and me, 46 years ago)

    I have a Jewish wife too!  My wife has never needed glasses though. I have to say I don’t have any pictures from our youth digitized. Very nice picture. 

    • #24
  25. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    When you chose your spiritual name, Ruth, did you know you were chosing the name of an ancient almost accidental prophet and did you know where that path would lead you?

    • #25
  26. Eleanor Member
    Eleanor
    @Eleanor

    Thankful you are getting stronger, Susan.

    Lovely story.

    • #26
  27. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Here’s a picture of me and my wife from a wedding we just attended about a month ago.  This was taken in one of those silly camera things they set up at such events now.  The glasses on my wife are only for show.  

     

    Now you can identify me with a face.  ;)  

    • #27
  28. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Manny (View Comment):

    Here’s a picture of me and my wife from a wedding we just attended about a month ago. This was taken in one of those silly camera things they set up at such events now. The glasses on my wife are only for show.

     

    Now you can identify me with a face. ;)

    You two make an attractive couple.  You know, I’ve always just imagined you being a seven-year-old with bubble gum.

    • #28
  29. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Manny (View Comment):

    Here’s a picture of me and my wife from a wedding we just attended about a month ago. This was taken in one of those silly camera things they set up at such events now. The glasses on my wife are only for show.

     

    Now you can identify me with a face. ;)

     Manny, you should have been blowing a big bubble. 

    BTW, I love to see what people whose ideas I read look like. 

    • #29
  30. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Here’s a picture of me and my wife from a wedding we just attended about a month ago. This was taken in one of those silly camera things they set up at such events now. The glasses on my wife are only for show.

     

    Now you can identify me with a face. ;)

    You two make an attractive couple. You know, I’ve always just imagined you being a seven-year-old with bubble gum.

    Same here. This makes you look like you know what you are doing when you post. Will give more likes. 

    • #30
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