“Huh?” The offer had surprised me. I only allowed grooming devices to meet my hair follicles straight out of the bathtub or during Mom’s morning ritual. The AM primp session was a torturous one -- the clock would swing frightfully close to the hour of YOU’VE MISSED THE SCHOOL BUS, SUCKA, school goers Elizabeth and I ran panicked, looking for lost assignments, younger siblings would sing or scream from high chair and booster seat, (though I’d learned after 5 years of big sister-hood to drown out the wee ones’ ruckus,) and our sensitive scalps turned a common hair brush into a weapon of mass destruction. It was your daily Perfect Storm. Boar bristle brushes were the most palatable to our finicky heads, and so Mom had accrued a small supply of them, and we had dubbed these tools “soft brushes.” Even so, the mornings Mom generously gave of her time and energy to spruce our young heads were the most noisy mornings on the block. Mom always wondered when our shrieks of pain would push the neighbors to calling Social Services, for our lung capacity then was already indicative of the singing capabilities that would manifest themselves full-blast only a short time later. Because the scalp pain seemed to only be the foreshadowing of upcoming battles with Mathematics and Fair-Weather-Friend Tawnya Allday, hair brushing and styling was my elementary school bad omen, my least favorite moment of my precious few spent in my 65 Diamante haven.
But Grandpa wanted to brush my hair. I had slinked my lanky 9 year old frame into my floral jammies and had slumped into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Grandma and Grandpa would be returning to their palace in Palo Alto the next morning, and as with every visit, I had loved thinking all week that this time of departure wouldn’t come, until, as always, it did. For this reason I slumped. I squeezed the toothpaste tube with my primitive supply of arm muscle, and the Colgate fought around the dried product caked around the bottle opening, and I dragged it onto the Disney character toothbrush.
Plaque already under attack, I glanced up and the mirror reported that Grandpa stood in the doorway with a slight smile.
“Who’s that pretty little girl over there?”
I gave him a toothpaste bubbled smile and an ever so slight yet naturally occurring roll of my grey eyes.
He shuffled in his brown loafers a bit closer behind me.
“Can I brush your hair?”
I hesitated 2 quick seconds. “Uh, sure.” Why would anyone brush hair or allow hair to be brushed when they were about to mess it up in a heavily shifted slumber? But it was Grandpa, and I felt a refusal would be disrespectful. But this was all very strange, I’d have to ask Mom about this after they left.
He picked up the Soft Brush that sat on the counter. I could see him moving the brush from the top rear of my head to just below my shoulders where my hair ended tragically shorter than all the other girls’, but I couldn’t feel a thing! “No pain, no gain” was a saying applicable to hair amidst the Eaton daughters. I quietly sighed, What is he doing? This isn’t even getting any knots out. There. I felt that, a slightly less negligable brush stroke, a few more strands of hair were smoothed. I wondered if he was building up momentum before he’d really attack my mane.
But then I saw him again through the mirror. His work-horse Idaho farm boy arm muscles were flexed, keeping his motion perfectly controlled, soft, and delicate. His eyes were fixed on the top of my head, and the complainer within me hushed quiet. He was the quintessential Merzy fan, taking a minute to showing me he was such with a Soft Brush, and contented, adoring Grandparent eyes, a small act of service.
And a quintessential fan such as him would need to be mine forever. And just as he showed me every visit that time speeds up in moments of secure, unadulterated enjoyment, he was teaching me just how wonderful it is that a forever is really ours.