Spring cleaning is a chore; but in the process, I came across photos from my number one son’s number one wedding. He and his wife are no longer married, but the photos brought me back to that time when I was charged with the responsibility of delivering Taija, my then four-year-old granddaughter with the long, beautiful tresses, to her father’s wedding. Though many years have passed since that time, I would like to emphasize that the experience left an indelible memory to share. I’ve had short, carefree hair all my life except when I was five (I don’t remember, but it’s documented in a single photo). And I have three sons whose hair, while periodically long, never needed more than a periodic suggestion of a brushing. Imagine, then, the challenge of my Taija’s long hair.
I remember agonizing over the details—the rehearsal dinner, planning for a place to stay with friends and family; but my greatest preoccupation remained Taija’s hair. I pored over books at the library, found one that showed me beautiful braids. I envisioned two ponytails braided and beribboned. I wanted it to be breathtaking. My practice resulted in a straggly braid end that had nowhere to hide, no way to gather it all together, and no way to disguise the disarray under the ribbon. And then there were little hairs that popped out of the braid in an irregular pattern. My husband and sons—then 12 and 18--did not share my anguish over the problem.
I bought ribbons to match her dresses. I finally figured out how to wrap the end and tuck it inside the rubber band. I hoped no one would discover the tangle of hair and elastic that lay underneath the lovely ribbons--much like the clutter you might find on the floor of the children’s closet.
My son delivered Taija to our house a few days before the wedding with lovely dresses, lacy socks and fancy shoes in tow. He and his bride went up to the Lake to prepare for the wedding in the beautiful back yard of her uncle on the inclines of Incline Village at Lake Tahoe. We arrived later in the week in time for the rehearsal dinner and wedding the next day.
I demonstrated my technique to my beloved sister-in-law and her long-haired 13-year-old daughter in the hopes they would be able to offer advice or possibly do it for me. They were full of encouragement and approval. I managed to complete the job--though not perfectly--but I anticipated that the filtered light in the restaurant, the confusion and business of the dinner, and the attention on the bride and groom would divert people’s attention from the errant hairs, the meandering part and the not-long-enough bows.
The dinner was a lovely event with the bride’s family and a spectacular meal in a lovely setting overlooking beautiful Lake Tahoe. No one was focusing on Taija’s hair. And all I remember is a lovely time.
The next morning, I dressed Taija in her pretty frock, lacy socks and pretty shoes, parted her hair, put it in ponytails, and delivered her to my sister-in-law. Sisters-in-law are an all-too-unappreciated species. But I can assure you that this sister-in-law is a gift. She and her daughter took over the task of completing the coiffure and delivering the angel to the wedding site. I left early with my father who was officiating at the wedding, my mother, my husband, and my bachelor sons.
Once there, I knew my job of hair cop was done. I trusted my sister-in-law to complete the hair and deliver the goods. I found a seat for my mother, helped Dad find a quiet place to collect himself, helped the bride’s mother distribute boutonnieres, snapped photos, hugged my son, checked my tears and generally allowed myself the pleasures of being mother of the groom.
The child in question arrived looking all a vision. Heads turned, people whispered. The wedding was perfect. The sun shone, the bride was absolutely radiant, the groom wept in happiness. His grandfather spoke words as loving as the act itself.
By the end of the evening, my granddaughter’s shoes were scuffed. Her lovely, lacy socks were soiled, her dress besmirched. But the ribbons remained, the braids were shiny, and she couldn’t have been more enchanting. We saw her father off to a new adventure and we returned to our rented home where Taija resumed her play with family and friends, unfazed by the ceremonious intertwining of the hair until she fell into a reluctant slumber.
We arose the next morning, bade one another adieu. The bride and groom returned to start their new lives together--a sudden threesome.
All life’s challenges become memories. Some are painful. Some are joyous. Some are both. Whatever else, this one is a keeper.