I’m missing my hairdresser and friend of 18 years, who died in May 2021. In our small town, everyone knows everyone, and my former hairdresser’s son is a school teacher in my district. I see her young grandson in one of our buildings, and I see so much of her in him. It reminds me to treasure every single moment. Tomorrow holds no guarantees for any of us. April 30 was National Hairstylist Appreciation Day, and I’m sending up a belated appreciation to Heaven for my friend and miracle-worker Penny.
Be Like Leo how could I have known sitting in front of the mirror in your swivel chair as you snipped split ends that by the next haircut you’d be walking down your hall, laughing, talking one moment and fall over and die the next leaving your husband your children your grandchildren your dog smiling through their knotty tears scattering your ashes a mile off shore from your favorite spot in Florida then all getting GPS tattoos of your final destination points how could I have known that one month shy of two years later your husband would suffer a heart attack and die, too, leaving two young married sons their wives your grandchildren anchorless and your banana-loving goldendoodle masterless searching for her people ferrying out to sea once again to scatter more ashes how could I have known that unexpected tears out of nowhere would well up in my eyes when your little grandson Leo arrived for his first day of preschool hair tousled half-crooked smile an image of you (only not the hair, not the hair) backpacked-out like a rocket man his tiny hands clinging tight to his lunch something he could hold onto and that I let the tears fall for a moment then took his picture on his first day of big school sent it to his daddy in his science classroom at the middle school greeting those who’d surely lost grandparents, too only not this young Your mama would be so proud I texted him I still have that picture and more like it that I take whenever I see sweet Leo like yesterday when the teacher was giving the hero compliment to the line leader, who stood with one hand on a hip, the other pressing a pointer finger over his lips still and quiet (he knows a lot about that) telling the others, I like how Leo is leading. He’s quiet. He’s not touching anybody. Let's see if we can be like Leo. how could I have known that would be the last time I sat in your chair?