Recently, my normal, routine visit to my hair dresser landed me smack in the middle of a life-threatening, hair raising episode of sheer panic and desperate prayers, ending in jubilant praise. It all took place at Lucille’s Hair Fashions located off the beaten path in a small Fort Worth Suburb.
I first met Lucille with my now thirty-something daughter in tow in a baby carrier. The setting was a one-chair set up on the back porch of Lucille’s house in the country. Over the years her business moved off of the porch and evolved into the present-day full-service hair salon offering facials, massages, and a full line of various beauty products. The unique feature of this little shop is the continued offering of teased hairdos and old-fashioned perms. These perks attract a solid clientele of lovely senior ladies who need walkers to get around but, nevertheless, are determined to keep their weekly “hairdo” appointment. The location and average age of the clientele give the place a down-home feel where God and country are discussed at length in between the trading of recipes and passing of cell phones to show pictures of grandkids.
I myself do not need a perm and I do not tease my hair. I do visit Lucille’s for a trim and, well, let’s call it color enhancement. I arrived at my last appointment a miraculous 20 minutes early. Happy about the found time, I eagerly settled into on of the red leatherette chairs to catch up on a little reading. As I sat down, I did note that Darlene was in the shop with her mother, Vivian. Darlene are friends from a church I once attended and I often encounter them at Lucille’s. In spite of her advanced age and need of assistance to ambulate, Vivian religiously maintains her beautiful, perfectly coiffed, silver hair. As I turned the pages in my book, I was aware of mummering among those tackling the task of transferring Vivian from her wheelchair to the shampoo bowl seat in the back of the shop. I overheard discussion of whether Darlene should leave Vivian for her appointment, as usual, or stay with her as Vivian appeared to be “a bit weak.” The situation commanded my full attention when I distinctly detected the words “Well, it looks like she’s swallering her tongue.”
My book fell to the floor as I leapt from the red leatherette and speed walked to the back of the shop where Daughter Darlene and shop staff stood, mouths agape, in a circle around Vivian. I observed Vivian, now successfully deposited in the shampoo bowl seat but with head lolled back, eyes half closed, white as a ghost, and apparently in the midst of a seizure. I muttered something that may have been inappropriate and shouted “Someone call 911 now!” Then, there before my eyes, Vivian stopped seizing, went completely limp, and assumed an even whiter shade of pale. As Daughter Darlene began to wave her hands and wail “I’m not ready to lose her,” I sprang into action, executing procedures described by my medical professional children and demonstrated weekly in my favorite TV shows. I shouted Vivian’s name to no avail. I rubbed her breastbone hard with my knuckles (known as a sternum rub). Nothing. I briskly smacked her left cheek then her right cheek, all the while shouting “Vivian, Vivian!” Nothing. I am not a medical professional and may not have checked properly, but I could not find a pulse. Finally, I clasped both of Vivian’s hands and desperately uttered “Dear sweet Jesus please do not let this woman die here at Lucille’s shampoo bowl.” “Vivian!” I shouted while alternately patting her deathly pale cheeks in a sixteenth note pattern. Suddenly, I thought I detected a slight eyelid flutter. “Yes!” I shouted! Relief washed over me like a flood in the desert, and I exhaled breath that I didn’t realize I was holding. “Vivian!” I loudly pleaded. The flutter widened as she slowly opened her eyes to a look of utter confusion. Daughter Darlene began to step lively around the shop shouting “Praise God Almighty! Thank you, Jesus.” Staff members clapped and nodded grateful smiles. “Vivian… do you know where you are?” I asked. “B-b-b-beauty shop” she slowly replied. “Thank God” I whispered as the door swung open and a posse of Paramedics stormed in to take over the assessment of Vivian.
As it turned out, Vivian was recently released from the hospital after suffering a light stroke. She fell the night before coming to the beauty shop that day (hitting her face, not her head, Darlene assured everyone). In spite of her weakness that afternoon, Vivian insisted on going to Lucille’s to get her hair done and Darlene, a loving and attentive daughter, gave in to her persistence. As I assured Darlene that all was well, I listened to Vivian, now sporting a bit of color in her cheeks and regaining her spunk, as she begged the medics to let her get her hair “done up” before being transported to the hospital. They did a great job of gently convincing her that she needed to go right away.
Darlene began to settle down as she tearfully hugged me and told me she was so glad I happened to be there. As she gathered up her purse to go the car and follow the ambulance to the hospital, I glanced at the clock and realized that the entire ordeal ended just in time for my appointment with Lucille. As the drama played out, Lucille did not cease tending to her clients while casting an occasional worried glance in the direction of the shampoo bowl. After all, the beautification of the public must go on. “How you doin’ girl?” she said as I took my seat in her chair. “Oh, life as usual.” I replied, “How’s the family?”
I am happy to report that all is well with Vivian. She left the hospital the next day and is doing quite well. Since the episode, she has been to Lucille’s several times for her weekly hairdo. I, personally, think I may now have even more gray hair than prior to the beauty shop revival but then… only Lucille knows for sure.