To my horror, as I moved into my fifties and sixties my hair started turning gray. I was going the way of all flesh. I was not immune to the ravishes of time. Gray hair, salt-and-pepper variety. Gray hair, any variety, looked well on friends but resembled the dispirited froth of a weary ocean wave on me. I was devastated.
Dyeing (the term used then) was a solution but also a burden. My hair turned a strange shade of orangeish-yellow even though the package clearly said ash-blonde. And then there was the problem of white roots showing up at inappropriate times when I didn't have time to do anything about it.
Why did I need to look younger than I was? What was wrong with looking older than I looked ten years ago if I’d lived ten years longer? Why not delight in looking my age?
In one of my prayer-poems in Prayers of an Omega, I asked “Should I let the hairdresser give me purple hair like Loretta’s?” Older women at the time used a kind of purple-blue tint. It looked strange, but it was the style, and style was always king--or rather, queen.
I recall hearing a story about a woman who had a heart attack in her sixties and arrived at the Pearly Gates, quite distraught. She begged St. Peter to give her another five or ten years. Sixty was too young to die. He agreed and sent her back to earth with the promise of another ten years.
Ten years? Wonderful. She had a new lease on life. She dived into life with gusto. The first step was to have a face lift, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and, of course, having her hair colored. She came out of the salon feeling and looking beautiful. On the way home she had a car accident and was killed, arriving back at the Pearly Gates.
"You promised me another five or ten years," she remonstrated loudly.
The Keeper of the Gates looked at her carefully, before responding. "I'm sorry, I never recognized you."
When I arrive at the Pearly Gates, will God recognize me?
I assured myself that God looks on the inside, not the outside. God can count hairs on bald heads, blonde heads, brown heads, and purple heads. Children of God are always beautiful. Peace-loving people are always beautiful. The face of wisdom is always beautiful. Mature, serene people are always beautiful.
The young bride is radiantly beautiful, yet her mother shows greater charm and grace despite her gray hair. And the wrinkled grandmother? Her face reflects the wisdom of years of experience. That is true beauty.
I went white and got more compliments that I ever had when I was blonde. So white I am until I land at the pearly gates.