“Please don’t be mad, Mama, but I cut his hair shorter than I was trying for. It is just so curly it’s hard to get it even.”
“That’s okay. Don’t worry. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”
I flung my phone into the empty passenger seat. The back flew off as it bounced against the door. My mouth hardened and my eyes narrowed as I stared at the road through sudden tears and anger as deep as 39 years ago.
My former husband, former for forty years now, had left our two-year-old daughter alone with his face-in-Christmas dinner alcoholic mother – again. We lived rent-free in a cottage next door to his parents. He had ignored the strongest words I had ever said to him, up to that point. “Don’t you dare leave Lori alone with Helga. You know she gets plastered in less than five minutes.”
I did not know he had left Sharon alone. I had assumed when he took Sharon over to visit, that he was staying with her. That’s what I reminded him to do.
But. . . Helga had brought Sharon back to the cottage later, alone, but it was a different Sharon. My baby girl’s wispy, blonde curls– the silky little feathers I wove my fingers through each night as I cuddled her to sleep – were gone. Forever.
“I just evened it up a little,” Helga said with a tentative, drunken smile as she stood in the doorway.
“Evened it up my ___,” I thought but dared not say. I had to go along to get along for our rent-free tiny cottage. “You cut two inches off. My baby girl has a Buster Brown pageboy, you blankety blank!!!”
I don’t remember what I actually said as I pulled Sharon inside and shut the door. That was four decades ago, before I learned to speak up for myself. Regardless, that night brought my father-in-law’s scalding criticism down on me for “making” Helga get drunk again.
I don’t remember much of that dreadful, short marriage, but it gave me my precious Sharon – as well as a thorough understanding of Al-Anon. Soon after the divorce, I had given my heart to Jesus and Sharon and I had been more than fine ever since. Also, many fruitful seasons of counseling had flowed through the years since then.
However, when I opened the door to my daughter’s house and looked at my grandson –his cap of ringlet curls gone– I saw my freshly-shorn Sharon and Helga. I slammed my bags down on the counter and started to walk to the bathroom, so mad I was afraid to speak for fear I would shout or scream or both. I never did either and I certainly did not want to do that to my daughter or scare my two grandsons, who were already upset because I had not given them their usual boisterous hug and teasing from Nana when I walked in the door.
“Please don’t do this, Mama!” Sharon said as her eyes shone wet with unshed tears.