Thursday, December 11, 2008

A sweet moment...

I was at a care facility and visiting an elderly lady who didn't seem to feel much like talking. She was sitting in a chair in her room. I noticed her hair was a bit tangled, and I asked her if it would be all right if I combed it. She said she'd actually like that. So I picked up her comb and started, very gently, working out the tangles in her pretty silver hair. I told her her hair was like spun silver. She was quiet for a moment, then talked about her grandmother's hair. I told her about my grandmother's hair, and about one of my aunts, whose hair turned white overnight, so the story went, when she was 24 years old. She started talking, a bit at a time, about her family, and eventually talked about the death of her father when he was very young, about how much she'd missed him and still did, about her most clear memories of him. She's well into her eighties, and that loss impacts her life to this day. I don't know if she'd have ever told me the story if I'd approached her as a "conventional chaplain," since I've been told she's a little suspicious and isn't always very talkative with strangers. How lovely to have time as two women, bound by a ritual as old as history, of gently caring for her hair and telling stories.


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