This morning following my daily drop off of the doll at school, I heard an advertisement on NPR, concerning a “Moth” competition taking place tonight in Ann Arbor. As Doug Tribou, the morning announcer read where one could still purchase tickets to as well as the local; I remembered attending my first Moth show with two of my older brothers, and their wives; wondering if I could produce some nerve to get up on stage in front of a bunch of 100 or more strangers and tell a true story–out loud. “The subject is “Hair” Doug relayed, before moving onto the next advertisement.
Hair… I ruminated for a few minutes and wondering what I could say, I began telling myself a story, out loud on the drive home… I am not attending the show tonight in Ann Arbor, as there are too many other things in my path tonight. But I did write a story that I think could have been told, if…I had the nerve, drive and transportation to the show. Tell me what you think.
Moth Show Subject: Hair
Time allotted to tell story: 5 minutes…
There is a song written and sung by the Indigo Girls named Virginia Woolf, about a young girl who reads Virginia Woolf’s diary and finds a connection to what she had written about herself and the girl. She says, “It’s like I found a telephone line through time…” I always liked that line and wondered if I would ever find something that could resonate in me the same way.
About ten years ago, when my dad was 86 and his older sister, Rosemary was 95, her family set up a date with my dad to talk about “old” times. My Aunt who was in the process of moving from an assisted living into a fulltime care facility; was afraid some of her families keepsakes would be lost in the move. So between my cousins and my siblings, we set up video cameras and recorded their meeting as together they reminisced about their parents, grandparents and siblings who were had already passed away.
The keepsakes were kept in an old brown cardboard box, which looked as if it had seen better days. The contents kept within, were weathered with age and of no real value, except to those who could attach memories and meanings to them. A photograph here, a signet ring there, a bag of hair… A bag of hair? I thought as I reached in a pulled it out. My first thought was, “Gross!!” mainly because this bag contained not just a clipping or a small lock of hair, but rather, a somewhat large pony tail wad of hair. “Why would anyone keep this?” I thought as I held that bag in my hand.
My Aunt Rosie, noticing the curious look upon my face said in a matter of fact way, “That’s Margie’s hair…”
Margie, my dad’s older sister, passed away from a brain tumor shortly after His fourth birthday and over the years had been made a saint in the eyes of her parents and remaining siblings. My grandmother, who had lost three children to still births with no visible reminder, save the pain of the loss, was given her hair by the doctor as a visceral reminder her daughter had lived in the world and was loved and would remain forever in their hearts–even if there were times when they couldn’t bring themselves to talk about her in grief. Yet, they still had a physical reminder/relic if you will, to help quell their grief.
So I’m holding this bag of hair and curiosity gets the best of me and I open and pull a few strands out. Immediately I am overwhelmed by the texture and true color the hair conveys. Then that line for the Indigo Girls song runs through my head, because like a telephone line through time, I am able to connect to a girl who passed away 80 years before. You see the hair, was fine in nature and the same color red as my six year old daughter. My aunt Rosie then replied, ‘Your daughter’s hair color reminds me of her…” and I am suddenly blown away by a bag of hair.