Have you asked a friend to keep you looking your best—with a plucked hair or a tweezed brow—in the event you're medically unable to do it yourself? Are you planning for a meticulously kempt final act?
One of my mother's final wishes was to make sure some things were taken care of after she passed. My sister plucked mom's chin whiskers and I clipped her toenails before they took her away for cremation. This is what she asked, and my sister and I did so without thought. It was over 17 years ago and I still remember the peaceful silence in doing this for my mother while her body was still warm to the touch. I am glad my sister and I carried out that final wish. I hope someone gives me the same grace on my way out! I think without knowing it she gave us a purpose and right of a passage of sorts. To prepare to take our place in life without her physically there. I still miss her and take much solace in being able to touch her that last time.
Wilmington, North Carolina
Your "Val Asks You" regarding chin hairs made me laugh and cry. Can you imagine my surprise walking into the hospital room of my ailing 97-year-old grandmother and watching her 78-year-old daughter, tweezers in hand, plucking gram's whiskers? Startling them both with my laugh, my aunt told me that they had made a pact that in the event they were unable to "tweeze," the other would be responsible for doing the deed. Watching the two of them, I was struck by the love that filled that room. Sadly, my grandmother passed shortly thereafter (with a hairless chin!), but the moment was etched in my heart and I immediately called my daughter, who was 22, and told her the "rules." She has always known my facial hair neuroses (I carry tweezers with me at all times), but now I know the unconditional love of a mother and daughter that will not let a stray hair go unnoticed. Thanks for your story…and the memory you provoked in me.
Plucking for Dough
My grandmother lived to be 96 years old. She lived alone, traveled and had an active social life until close to the end of her life, and she continued to care about her appearance! I would go to her house to wash, set and comb out her hair every Saturday, except when she needed a haircut. I would also pluck her eyebrows and any other stray hair that had appeared. I am not a hair stylist. I was just a granddaughter who was able to help. I must add that I did not do all of this for free. While I was washing and setting her hair, the aroma of the freshly baking bread that I would soon take home was filling the air! Not only that, I learned all the family lore and gossip during our weekly get-togethers!
From the July 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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