|BWS Stories - "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter"...Stories About Mom|
"Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter"...Stories About Mom - My Hair-Story
Joy E. Cressler was born on Groundhog's Day 1959, five days after Castro took power in Cuba and twelve hours before Buddy Holly's music died in Iowa. She is the mother of seven children and works as a professional journalist since 1994. Several stories and essays were published in a college creative arts magazines during the decade she spent obtaining a creative arts degree.
My grade school pictures show a girl with crystal blue eyes and hair in full distress. My baby-fine dishwater-blond hair is kinked tight with super-strength Lilt perms, interspersed with whiskery stubble jutting from my scalp like new vegetation after a forest burn. Other photographs reveal that the cursed kink has faded into tall poofy hair, ridiculously mature for an elementary-aged girl in the 1960s.
By the time I enter high school, Mother has reluctantly abandoned her yearly vigil to window shade my hair into rows of humiliation. I had wrenched control of my hair from her grasp my freshman year, and now, early mornings found me pouring over the broken mirror on my dresser, dragging a comb down the middle of my hair with a concentrated frown, making sure every strand fell from the center in flawless harmony.
One morning in 1973, Mother notices my perfectly combed hair as I head for the front door with the bus chugging toward the bus stop. As I try to sail past her, she musses up my hair with both hands, flinging me into a fit of rage. I hate her at that moment and tell her so. She promises that my father would hear of my angry words and he did, that night, via the end of a belt. She forgot to mention her culpability in antagonizing me and I didn't tell on her.
A decade later and rid of childhood shackles, my long hair hangs to my waist, shining and healthy as nurturing hormones enrich the roots during pregnancy. My young husband admires my glistening locks and others in his family often complement me on its length. On a whim, I visit the beauty shop and have my hair shagged and permed, the long strands reduced to a few 1980s rock star spikes snaking down my back. Many are disappointed with what I have done to my hair and tell me so. Not my husband. He found it alluring and soon, I am with child again.
Now approaching fifty, my long tresses are gone and so is my husband and most of my children. My hair, however, remembers a woman from long ago, the quirks in the way mother-hair lays and the luster it loses with age. Beautician intervention only yields hair styles determined to imitate the way mother fixed her hair as a young career woman. I am destined for the snow white locks of the woman who bore me, even as I lament that genetic resemblances do not guarantee mended maternal bonds.