Why French Braids are Important to Me
February 15, 2012 by Sheree Phillips 8 comments
Today I got to spend the afternoon with an old friend. We laughed; joked; shared Starbucks and a scone; playfully mocked others she was interacting with; and, at one point, fought back tears. She was gushing with gratitude at a recent box she received in the mail from faraway friends who surprised her and her husband with Valentine gifts. And then there was the generous check in the mail from a friend who could use some money herself. Then the laughter returned. Lugging her stuff out of my van made us realize we’re both becoming the old ladies we joked about being “somday” when we were 20-somethings.
You might be surprised to learn that our outing today was at a hospital — and that my friend is facing the fight of her life. Our fun interactions happened as chemo flowed into her body, and the people she was mocking were her nurses.
I noticed at one point that the only laughter in the ward was coming from our little corner.
Liz isn’t pretending she’s not in a crisis. Our hours together were laced with occasional references to her uncertain future. She talked about sending the wig she ordered online back because it was just too uncomfortable…and ugly. She would need to make other plans when her hair falls out. I choked up when I asked her if she would want me to come over and take some pics of her with her family.
She is praying for a miracle. I am, too, and so are a lot of other people. I want her to meet her first granddaughter in June; see her daughter’s high school graduation in a couple of years; grow even older with Frank; and keep french-braiding the hair of the girls in my family.
Yep. Liz has been braiding Phillips hair for 30 years, starting with my daughter, Jaime. At a recent picnic for our new church, I noticed her braiding my granddaughter’s hair. It took me back to Nags Head vacations and church picnics in Fairfax, Virginia where little girls would line up for Mrs. Liz to braid their hair.
My oldest granddaughter is 10. Lord willing, I could be a great-granma in 15 years. Will you pray along with me that Liz will be there to braid my great granddaughter’s hair? The fact is, she could outlive me because none of us know how many days have been numbered for us. But know this: I’m praying we’ll both be around in our early 70′s, because even though she’s tried many times to teach me, I still can't do a french braid.
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