When you wish to wash your cares away…

shower

Going to the hair salon has always been a luxury to me- I’ve been blessed to have a mother and a sister who are both amazing at doing hair (my sister, Sarah, is a gifted natural hairstylist, actually), and I’m not too bad myself; so I’ve never really “needed” to go the salon to get my hair done, except for when I’ve been away from home.

Last week, though, I went to the hairdresser for the first time in over five years (I went to Urban Curls Toronto, to be exact. It was also my first time going to a natural hair salon, and it was wonderful).

hair-salon

I decided I needed to go to a salon to not only get my hair done for the sake of getting it done (it was in desperate need of a professional treatment, as it was dry and breaking a lot), but I also felt like I needed to go just for the experience of being at the hair salon.  I personally needed some T-L-C to soothe what has been a pretty rough start to 2017 with the passing of one of my best friends, my dear Grandma.

Being at the hair salon always feels like the royal treatment to me: someone else is taking care of you, and it feels great.  I especially love having my hair washed by somebody else (though it hasn’t always been this way: as a child, I loathed the process!) With this mass of 4b/4c hair that I’ve got, washing my hair is always a bit of a chore; so it’s nice to get a break! I love the sensation of having my scalp massaged and really feeling like my hair’s getting a deep clean. I love the sound of the water running, as it lulls me into a peaceful catnap.  I find it very therapeutic.

drain

This time, though, I really took in the process of washing my hair.  This time it was symbolic.

This time I was trying to get some serious stuff out of my hair: the stress of 2016, and the end of the year, in particular…

Transitioning from a job.

Struggling to get my book finished.

My Grandma falling ill.  The weeks in the hospital.  The trips to Sunnybrook for radiation.  My last Christmas with her.

That awful Monday morning.

Making the plans. Sending her off in style.

Laying her to rest…

As the water ran through my hair, I paused and reflected on it…a metaphorical attempt to wash my cares away…In that moment I remembered how much my Grandma enjoyed having her hair washed by the nurses at the end of her life. I thought how she too must have found some peace from the water running through her hair, washing the pain away, if only for a few minutesIn that moment I felt close to her.

hair-washingI realized that there is just something that we all love about having our hair washed with gentleness and care.  It comforts us and helps us to forget about everything else- whether at the beginning of life (like this sweet newborn baby: http://www.today.com/parents/watch-blissful-newborn-have-her-hair-washed-first-time-t105333), at any point in the middle, and even at the end.

 

I think the hairdresser will be seeing me a lot more often this year…

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s to 90 years, my parent, teacher, best friend!

Photo credits: Matthew Kozovski Photography

Photo credits: Matthew Kozovski Photography

It has been a very long time since I last posted.  And I’m not going to make excuses, because I know I should have been posting; I will, however, offer you an explanation: I was planning my Grandmother’s 90th birthday party.

A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend ~ Unknown

On March 24, my Grandma turned 90 years old; and I was not going to let this monumental milestone pass without occasion! 90 is no ordinary age! And anyone who knows me knows that my relationship with my grandmother is no ordinary one…

My grandmother on her wedding day

My grandmother on her wedding day

For me, my Grandma is “a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend”.

A little bit parent

My Grandma raised me.  I essentially grew up at her house: when I was a toddler, my grandmother offered to look after me while my Mom and Dad went to work; so, during the week, I would stay with her, and then on the weekends I would go home to my parents.  By the time I started school, I was so comfortable at my Grandma’s house, my parents let me stay with her and my Auntie (my Mom’s sister, who was living there); and this split-week arrangement continued well into my teenage years.

So, while most people have one motherat best, twoI have been blessed with three.  I was co-raised by three amazing women; and all three of them have played a very important role in making me who I am today.

My Grandma, in particular, instilled in me the importance of having a good work ethic, constantly reminding me to “put [my] shoulder to the wheel”; keeping my priorities straight: “boys and books don’t mix”; and striving for excellence: “it’s not enough to do 100%, you must always do 150%”.  She made sure that I never strayed too far away from the straight-and-narrow, which would sometimes grate on my nerves when I was growing up, but I can honestly say I’m so grateful for today.

A little bit teacher

My Grandma encouraged me to learn.  When I was younger, she used to read to me; and once I knew how, she would let me read to her, so that I could get better at it.  My Grandma (and Auntie) would make me recite poems and other readings to teach me how to speak in front of an audience.  My Grandma also taught me how to bake and sew; how to be a “proper lady”; and, above all, how to be a good Christian.

A little bit best friend

My Grandma is my girlfriend, believe it or not.  She used to take me with her everywhere she would goespecially shopping on the Danforth and to her church eventsand even as far as Florida and London, England!

My Grandma has been a constant source of strength and encouragement for me; she is by no means perfect, but she is always present.  She has always been there for meand as long as it has been within her power to do soshe has been there with me at every major event in my life, since Day One literally (I was born at the hospital where she used to work).  Whenever I am feeling down or I have a problem, I know that I can call her to be a listening ear and to offer a good word of advice.

A little bit role model

Having grown up with my Grandmother, I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about her (I mean, we used to share the same bed, at one point, even!)  Over the years, I had had the unique privilege of witnessing her strength, sagacity, skillfulness, sternness, along with her surprising sense of humour- some of the very things that make my Grandma special- first-hand.  But it wasn’t until I planned this party that I really got a chance to know her.  And it wasn’t by spending more time with her, or asking her questions.  I got to know my Grandmother through her friendssome of whom have known her for over 50 years(!)people who did not hesitate to share anecdotes that I had never heard before of how my Grandma impacted their lives.

Photo credit: Matthew Kozovski Photography

Photo credit: Matthew Kozovski Photography

Her friends told me stories about what her young days would have been like, growing up in Guyana in the ’30s and ’40s.  About how she came to a far-less-welcoming Canada in the early ’60s as a domestic worker for the White upper class, having to leave her children behind until she was landed (which was part of the rules), and dealing with what all of that entailed just to give her family all of the opportunities we have today. They spoke of her kindness and generosity, her courage, and her willingness to stand up for others and do what is right, even when it was not popular, during the years that she worked as a cook at the former Wellesley Hospital in downtown Toronto.  They talked about her faith in the midst of adversity, and how she has always trusted God to help her, even when her haters (and she has a few) have wished her ill.

I’ve always known what my Grandma has meant to me; but it was through planning this party that I was able to hear the great things that others have to say about her, which I think, is a true testament to how she has lived her life.  A life well-lived, which is exactly how I would like to live mine.

So, here’s to 90 years of living well, my parent, teacher, best friend– Grandma!

Photo credit: Matthew Kozovski Photography Decor: EmilyRenee Decor & Events

Photo credit: Matthew Kozovski Photography
Decor: EmilyRenee Decor & Events