There are many “last times” with my mom that I don’t remember at all, but I vividly remember the last time I took her to get her hair done.
It was February 1, 2017 and the only reason I know the date is because I took this picture.
As always, I went to my mom’s house to pick her up for her hair appointment with our longtime stylist and family friend, Bonnie. Everything was going fine until my mom tried to get into my car. This was a major struggle for us at the time because she wouldn’t let anyone help her and she would yell if you tried.
My mom was having difficulty trying to get into my car and she was getting angry and frustrated. To make matters worse, it was freezing cold and fairly windy that day. The cold and the wind only further aggravated her. She kept yelling that it was ridiculous and that she wanted to go back inside.
I didn’t want to cancel her appointment at the last minute so I kept encouraging her to keep trying. I also felt pressured by my dad to make this happen so she would be out of the house for a few hours and he could have some time to himself.
I was near tears several times, but kept trying to get my mom in the car anyway. I have no idea how long it took or how it finally happened, but I was somehow able to get her into the car.
It wasn’t over though.
My mom was pissed about having to wear a seatbelt. Something she had never once complained about before was suddenly enraging her. She kept pulling at it, asking what it was, and saying how ridiculous it was that she had to wear it. My mom, the woman who always made sure everyone wore their seatbelt no matter how short the drive, was adamant about not wearing it.
She picked and pulled and yelled at me for the entire thirty minute car ride as I did my best to distract and redirect her, which quickly downgraded to just trying to listen to some music and ignore her.
By the time we got to Bonnie’s house, I was hanging by a thread. I then went about the painful process of getting my mom out of the car and into the house, which was no small feat. Once inside the house, I guided my mom to the salon chair and began trying to help her get in it. Even with Bonnie’s help, my mom somehow slid off the seat, down to the floor, and fell onto her side. Bonnie and I were able to help her up and finally get her situated in the chair, at which time I quickly escaped to the bathroom to catch my breath and cry.
We made it through the hair appointment, even managing to snap this adorable selfie with smiles and all. I decided to skip our usual trip to SaladWorks for lunch, opting to pick up sandwiches to eat at home instead. By the end of it all, I was spent.
I had been going back and forth for some time about whether or not it was time to stop taking my mom to the hair salon. Bonnie had always told me she would come to my mom’s house instead when the time came and I thought maybe the time had come. I was so reluctant to stop taking her because she had always really enjoyed it and it was one of the only things we had left to do together. I didn’t want to be the one to make that decision, to take yet another thing away from her.
It became clear to me that day that it was time. Yet another loss, yet another thing stolen from both of us. It broke my heart, but I knew it was time.
I could have kept pushing and trying to take her, especially if she was having a good day, but I never knew when it was going to be a good day. I realized that maybe my mom wasn’t struggling so much because she was having a bad day. Maybe she was struggling so much because I was asking too much of her and that caused her to have a bad day. I didn’t want to be the cause of any more bad days for her.
So, I made a decision that day. I would no longer take my mom to Bonnie’s house for her hair appointments. I would have Bonnie come to my mom’s house instead. It was a hard decision to make and an even harder decision to stick to, but I figured that probably just meant it was the right one.
Bonnie continued to come to my mom’s house every few weeks to do her hair. As time went on, she began coming every two weeks just to wash and style my mom’s hair. She did this every two weeks for the rest of my mom’s life. She even did my mom’s hair one last time at the funeral home. Now, Bonnie still goes to my parents’ house every two weeks to cut my dad’s hair.
We never know when the last time will be the last time. Sometimes we’re the ones who have to decide that it’s the last time. We have to draw the line somewhere. It is never easy, but you’ll know when it’s time. You just know.
And when you’re struggling with making a decision, it usually just means it’s the right one. Many times the hardest thing to do is also the right thing to do.