Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Alphabet Game

Bea’s hair needs serious attention. It hasn’t been brushed in weeks.

Lisa positions Bea so that her head is at the extreme end of the bed. Then we raise the front of the bed until she is in a full sitting position. Lisa takes one side, while I concentrate on the other. A plush yellow bed & breakfast towel cushions Bea’s head. Since it will hurt to unravel the tangled hair, distraction is in order:

“My grandmother apparently invented a little game when she was combing hair," I tell Lisa. "She named each and every snarl. She would start with A and name the A snarl, say, Anne. The B snarl would be Betty, etc.”

A little voice pipes up, “No, Beatrice.”

“Beatrice? Why, of course! She used names from your family.”

“Here’s the C snarl,” declares Lisa, working fast on what used to be Bea’s braid.

“How about Charlotte?”

“And I’ve got D snarl, too.”

“D snarl would be …”

“Dorothy,” says Bea. “Hey! Don’t pull so hard. That hurts!”

“For E, there’s lots of choice. Esther? Estelle?”

“Estelle.”

“Bea’s aunt, who stayed here for a summer when she was elderly,” I inform Lisa.

“I’ve got F. What name shall we give it?”

“Florence,” says Bea dreamily, transported 90 years into the past.

“Aunt Florence. Right!"

"Big family!" Lisa comments.

"Sure was. Which aunt did you like best?”

“Florence.”

“G would be Gretchen or Ginny … and H?”

“Helen,” Bea says in a soft voice.

We reach J and the hair is almost untangled. I start brushing out the few remaining snarls.

“Ouch!” says she of the sensitive scalp.

“Sorry! You’ll be ready to have your hair washed in a minute.”

“I don’t want to have my hair washed.”

Too late! Lisa has already started rubbing in No-Rinse Shampoo. It promises “soft, clean, manageable hair without water.”

We let the hair dry before I braid. Gray fluff surrounds Bea’s face like a halo. She looks beautiful. I am relieved we were able to wash her hair.

Bea survived the ordeal, thanks to the Alphabet Game …

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