Relay: A Touch of Gray

She was the kind of woman you knew instantly had style and great taste

A few weeks back, I stopped at the Village Cheese Shop after a doctor’s appointment in Southampton. As I walked in, I noticed an older woman with silver hair and a flattering red suit sitting at a table with a group of other women her age, maybe a little younger. She was the kind of woman you knew instantly had style and great taste. She must have been quite stunning in her youth. I decided she was in her 80s now. She was still quite beautiful. 

It was busy for a Thursday. I waited in a long line for a sandwich, impatiently looking at my iPhone and thinking about all the work piling up in my inbox, how I needed more pills for our dog’s stiff joints, and about how my doctor’s visit did not go so well. Another long line at the cashier, and then I bounded out the door for my car, parked in front of the shop. 

That lovely older woman, a walker steadying her, was making her way toward a car waiting for her out on Main Street. As I got behind her as she slowly made her way near my driver’s-side door, I realized her driver, a middle-aged woman, took notice of the situation, as did the lady with the walker, and both began to apologize. 

Their concern for me made me disappointed in myself that even for a sliver of a second I had been frustrated by such an inconsequential delay. I placed my food in the car and walked over to the pair and offered a hand. The driver took the walker and I took the lady by the arm. 

As I went to open the passenger door, I noticed a little dog, and I asked her if he would like to jump out — so many can be escape artists. She assured me her dog would never do that. She had rescued it, and they developed such a strong attachment that the pup would not dare leave her side. 

The dog, named Peanut, or something similar, I can’t recall, sat down on the center console, wagging its little tail and ready to jump onto a lap. I told the woman I, too, had a rescue dog and how wonderful they are. She agreed.

As she settled into her seat and I helped swing her legs into position, she looked up at me, very matter-of-factly, and said, “What beautiful hair you have.” This surprised me because I had worn my hair in its untamed, natural state — a combination of curls and waves. I had not had time to carefully blow-dry and straighten it. She must have sensed my confusion, and told me again. 

I wondered if with age you really do tend to appreciate everything just a little bit more. Perhaps I should not worry about such things as straightening my hair, covering the strands of gray, the inbox getting full, and waiting. Perhaps I should enjoy the process. 

I remember my mother saying that her father used to caution, “Where I am now, you too shall be.” I would add — if we are lucky. I hope to grow to that lovely lady’s age, and be as graceful and kind as she seemed, all while rocking a head of beautiful gray hair and a stylin’ outfit, and that there’s a cuddly dog happy to see me. 

I pray, too, some young woman in a rush doesn’t sigh when I get in front of her with my walker. 

By the way, I’ve been wearing my hair curly a lot more lately.