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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2010 23 I was havIng CheerIos and mIlk with my mother at the little table beside the window, in her retirement building in Chi- cago. her sixth-floor apartment overlooked lake michigan, and one of my mother’s greatest pleasures was to sit in her favorite chair and watch the passing of ore boats and clouds. This was the first morning of my visit, and my mother turned her attention from her lake to her daughter, saying, “Your hair is so wild! Can’t you do something to get it out of your face?” “why don’t you ever tell me when you like my hair?” I asked. she tried to redeem herself that evening, lavishing compliments upon me when I put barrettes in my hair before we went down- stairs to dinner. But again the next morning she looked at me over her bowl of cereal with her head cocked, and I felt it coming. “You looked so beautiful last night,” she said, trying to be dip- lomatic. “I could hardly take my eyes off you.” I knew that was just the prelude. “But this morning...can’t you just brush it back?” “mom,” I said, “I’m sixty-three years old. I’m too old for you to be telling me how to wear my hair.” apparently I wasn’t too old to mind. “I just want you to know how nice it looks when you brush it back.” “I know how you like it, mom.” “no, you don’t! That’s why I’m telling you.” I thought: You’ve been talking to me about my hair for sixty years. do you think I don’t know what pleases you? But I didn’t say it out loud. anyway, I wasn’t in an entirely blameless position. a couple of years before, when my mother’s hair had been down to her shoulders and she sometimes wore it in pigtails, she asked me if I liked it that way. I said I didn’t think it was “age appropriate.” (If she hadn’t been my mother, I probably would have been charmed by her braids.) she pretended she thought that was a great wit- ticism, and a couple of times I heard her say to friends, “susan thinks my braids are not age appropriate!” But it hurt her feelings. not long after, she cut her hair short, so that it floated soft and white around her face. and did I mention to her the next time I saw her how nice her hair looked? no, not until she asked me out- right whether I thought her new haircut was age appropriate. phoToBYCoreYkohn SuSan Moon is the author of The life and letters of Tofu roshi and editor of not Turning away: The practice of engaged Buddhism. This story is from her new book, This Is getting old: Zen Thoughts on aging with dignity, from Shambhala Publications. This Is Getting Old Old age forces you to let go of one damn thing after another! But as SuSan Moon learns from her mother, it can also be a golden opportunity for poetry, friendship, and moderate amounts of wine.