Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shades of Grey

My beautiful mother

Ella has set us the prompt Shades of Grey today at Poets United's Wonder Wednesday. She takes the title from the book of that name which is apparently all the buzz, and which I hadn't heard about until today. My first thoughts of grey were about hair. I don't - and won't ever - dye mine. I wear my strange mix of reddish grayish white proudly, it actually is a neat color, evolving from the red hair of my younger years. I earned every silver streak. 

My aversion to dyed hair and makeup  is the polar opposite of my mom. She dyed her hair all her life, until it became a pouffy white straw cloud. She always used  pancake makeup and bright lipstick. The granddaughters thought her way cool and glamorous, and she was. She turned heads still in her seventies. I go au naturel and it works for me. If any heads turn, it is in disbelief, hee hee!

In her old age, my mother remembered,
with relish,
walking into a dance hall, age sixteen, 
her long blonde hair hanging down her back,
and how my dad jumped over the piano
and off the stage to beetle across the floor 
to meet her.

That was it.
"The only man I ever loved,"
she'd say,
for the rest of her life.

When my step-father's hair 
turned a lovely silver,
she decided to dye it black,
so he'd look younger.
Towel around his shoulders,
he'd sit, black rivulets 
running down his face,
patiently enduring the indignity.
The dye didn't "take" very well,
so there were always black stains
on the pillows.
And when it rained, the dye
would start seeping down his face
and onto his overcoat,
drawing puzzled glances 
from the other bus passengers.

"You've got to suffer to be beautiful,"
my mother always said.
She was beautiful,
all her life,
and, yes, she suffered.


  1. I'm sure she did, but it also looks like hair dye and pancake was one of the ways the two pleased each other. A great focus.
    My poor mother was always on the outs with her in-laws because it wasn't her world. I tried, but it didn't take.

  2. Your mother sure was beautiful. But I know you are too. Though no heads may turn, it's only because they are ignorant of the beauty that passes them by.

    I like what you wrote. Made me realize beauty is no protection from life and suffering.

    I'm back Sherry. Glad to be reading you again.

  3. Hi All, Taking a bit of a break here but when I saw the "Shades of Grey" mention, I had to stop by.
    Over a year ago, our family spent some time at the shores of Lake Huron, one of the 5 Great Lakes. It was a cold wintry day and as I walked with my newly married daughter, we talked about many things including the amazing colours. I went home & wrote a poem titled "Shades of Grey" for a Poetic Bloomings prompt on Colour; later, I told my family about the poem & of course, when I said the title of my poem, the grown up children just exchanged glances--yes, I know about the book, I said, but this is not "50" shades! We all had a chuckle over this.:)

  4. Excellent honest tribute. What a beautiful mom.

  5. She is indeed a beautiful woman, Sherry. I have heard the saying "You've got to suffer to be beautiful." Somehow I think of this more in our parents' generation than in our own or maybe it is just the people I know. I just know for one thing that I 'aint' gonna suffer unnecessarily.....for anything. LOL.

  6. Sherry, the grey hair issues seems to stay around throughout the decades. It is a puzzle but one of those issues that is set in people's minds. Like the black & white photo, along with the colour one!
    Some say it depends on how early the grey hair arrives! Interesting.

  7. Gosh your mom was a beauty Sherry. Loved the story of the dye. I did mine black a couple of times, once had blond (ish) streaks too but that was years ago, in the 70's... awww she really was a looker ;)

  8. Your Mom had movie star glamor! She was beautiful! I agree...when I look at torturous high heels, lol.
    I guess, time will tell...but I'm not dying mine, yet... ;D
    I do agree the glamor gene skips a generation. My Mom n' daughter have it...I don't. I use to wear sunglasses so I wouldn't have to paint my raccoon eyes! lol
    I love this and I can see the black dye running down an older man's face, oh my... Fun to read!

  9. awww i just love this story. wow. i can picture the whole scene. oh wait, but it's happening in my mother's kitchen. :)

    also, i do not even believe you have not heard of 50 Shades before now, but methinks you are better off.

  10. What an amazing tale, in poem, of a woman obviously loved and definitely lovely. This was fun to read, Sherry. The details... dye that didn't take, your mom's opinions... make the piece engaging and entertaining.

  11. What a beautiful story in this poem, also preserved some historical details about how hair treated. Lovely gentleness in the telling of this story.

  12. What a beautiful woman....and how hard she must have worked to keep that look.

    I, on the other hand--bit like you. There's grey and it's stayin'. I can't be bothered. Something about the 'once you start, there's no turning back' that just makes it soooo not worth the effort. LOL Lazy me! ;-)

    Oh, and your poor dad......LOLOL What a gem for putting up with it!

  13. Sherry,

    I loved the beautiful tribute to your dear mother. She looked like a film star in one of your photos...
    It is a shock when hair changes colour, but as long as the personality is still vibrant, that is the true person...
    Best wishes,
    Hope all is well with you Sherry:)

  14. Come out from under your rock, Sherry! That book is freaking EVERYwhere, just like the Twilight ones were before that. Next you'll say you've never heard of Justin Bieber. Think of all you're missing, she said, rolling her eyes.

  15. I remember your mother well, Sherry. She looks beautiful in both these photos...:)

  16. Your step father had more patience than I ever would!

  17. After catching my breath from laughing at what mi amiga Fireblossom said about that book
    'hiding in the shadows of grey' or something like that (lol), I must say that for the longest time I didn't know that my mother dyed her hair until after she was devoured by dimensia and Alzheimer's and she would forget to dye it. My wife now laughs at me when I reminisque about hot naive i was. Remember Sherry, the beautiful pictures you posted of her in your interview with me?

    Gracias for sharing once again, mi amiga.

  18. This was a great story, Sherry! My mother in law, who's in her 80s, still dyes her hair very dark brown! I'm grayer than she is!

  19. We are just the opposite - my Mom has been grey for years, and I sit with black dye running down my face!

  20. Oh she is so beautiful. Love this work, this double portrait and love my own gray hair!

  21. I feel the humiliation of your step-father. I have been nagged into dying/bleaching my hair, wearing makeup, etc. because you just can't turn any heads without it. If I ever color my hair again I swear I'm going to color it green.

  22. This is a lovely close-up portrait of your mom, Sherry. She was beautiful: in youth, in age, and in your words. Loved it.

  23. oh, she looks like a movie star! and she reminds me of my mother. my daughter is much like my mother having grown up watching her apply her makeup, but i'm afraid going to the hairdresser and never leaving the house without lipstick is just not my style. if i'm clean, i'm ready to go out the door. {smile}


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