“Gray hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained by a righteous life.”
Mother noticed it first, while we were preparing a glazed ham for Christmas dinner. We always brushed our ham in a sweet combination of brown sugar, mustard, and pineapple juice, it was a recipe passed down from my great grandmother. I was mixing the glaze at the counter beneath the kitchen window while Mother was setting the oven temperature, and she turned around and let out a snicker. How funny it was that my own gray-haired Mother spied my first gray hair! It was a two sided token I suppose, some women aren’t fortunate enough to still have a mother of their own when they become one. But my cheeks blushed when she noticed it and I felt silly because usually a mother is gone before a gray hair appears.
“Look who’s got themselves a platinum highlight! Not to worry, dear, it’s a small price to pay for all this wisdom,” Mother told me, with a witty smile.
All my life I’d been told my facial features mirrored hers. I loved when I heard that, Mother was a beautiful woman. People would jokingly call us sisters. I thought, pretty soon we’ll look like twins once the rest of my highlights come in! I pursed one side of my lips into a smile, and I told her I thought her hairdresser overdid her highlights a bit.
It wasn’t too long before my own platinum streaks filled out into a full head of silver. I think I was forty two standing in that kitchen, and just nearing fifty when I could be looked upon and termed “elderly.” I come from a family of dark complexions, so I’ve aged into hair of slate rather than white. It’s true what they say, about the trepidations you feel when you get older. I thought, will I become a victim of crime? Will the kids cast me away to a nursing home at the first forgotten memory? A friend of mine said that for the women in her family, “gray hair and senility are a combo package.” I worried myself sick sometimes.
But I also read that younger people fear old age more than people who are actually there, and that manifested to be a truth. Here I am now, in my gray and in my glory! I’ve learned to hope while some despair. I don’t mean false hope, hoping for things unrealistic. But I mean a sense of hope, a sense of faith. A few of my friends haven’t done so well. I only have a few friends now, I’ve become more selective as my years descend through the center of the hourglass.
“You’ll learn to transcend life’s experiences,” Mother said, a calm sense of certainty in her frail voice. Her body weakened as she grew older and grayer but her spirit never wavered. I’d like to think that’s another one of her traits I’ve been gifted with. She gave me the ability, wrapped in a silver bow, to see time as an empty framework behind one’s own story. My life has been a beautiful story indeed. So time is not a factor. It’s like gray matter in the background, it doesn’t matter much.