I could tell something was wrong the moment I heard Mom's voice. As usual, I walked in the front door and loudly announced myself so that she wouldn't be startled. She quietly called out that she was there, in the TV room. Nineteen years of hearing Mom's every emotion come through in the tone of her voice, I braced myself.
"Hey Mom, how are you doing today?"
I already knew what was wrong even as those words came out of my mouth. It was pretty evident.
"For years I have had the same lady come to my house and cut my hair. She's been doing a wonderful job all these years. Now look at me." Mom said in her most pouty voice. Sure enough, somebody had chopped Mom's hair off. It looked pretty bad, but the little pin curls Mom had tried to put in her hair didn't help.
"I'm hoping the pin curls will fluff it up a bit, and make my hair look longer."
"Sure, that will help." I lied. For the next hour and a half I tried to take her mind off of the bad haircut, but it seemed like every topic led right back to how her hair looked. At one point Mom complained that not only was her hair ugly but her voice sounded very weird and growly. I assured her that she pretty much still sounded like the lady who used to bawl me out sixty years ago. In fact I decided to take a video of her and play it back so that she could hear herself. So I took the video and played it back for her.
"Oh my god, I am not liking what I see on that." Mom said, not paying any attention to how she sounded. "Oh dear, it'll take months and months for my hair to grow back."
I quickly deleted the video and tried to change the subject, but all Mom could talk about was her hair.
"Mom, you know how many times I've gone from long hair to short hair and back. It grows back more quickly than you think, so don't worry about it so much."
"I'm ninety five years old. I don't know if I've got enough time left to grow it back."
So that's what the real problem is. Mom is worried that she might die and she doesn't want people to see her laying in that coffin with her hair all fucked up. That's understandable, but I look at it this way. It's giving her more incentive to take care of herself and live a long, long time. At least until her hair grows back.