South Charlotte

Finding comfort at the beauty parlor

The women at Mom's memory-care facility are dealing with different stages of Alzheimer's disease. Some still dance and sing, several use wheelchairs, some can crack a joke like my mom, Rose Beebe, 88, while others no longer speak.

Some remember me when I visit, and some I have to befriend each time.

But when these ladies visit the beauty parlor at Legacy Heights Memory Care, one thing is certain: They haven't forgotten what it feels like to be pampered.

They look content as they don their capes and sit in the chair for a shampoo and set, all the while admiring themselves in the mirror.

As I watch them relax under the dryer or patiently get every silver hair on their heads teased into place, I can't help but believe that, for women, the joy of getting beautified is in our DNA.

Sandra Babb has been doing hair in her tidy salon at Legacy Heights for 13 years and enjoys the satisfaction of making the women there look their best.

"I hope I am making them feel better. It makes me feel good that I am making a difference," said Babb. "One lady calls this her 'pretty room.' "

I visited Mom during a recent hair appointment, and she was jubilant as Babb colored, cut and styled her hair. Mom always said she would never go grey and I have honored her request. I think she may be the only blonde bombshell at Legacy Heights.

Babb meticulously curled and styled Mom's hair and then turned her to the mirror to see her adorable bob. Much to Babb's chagrin, Mom started running her fingers through her hair, innocently destroying Babb's creation. We laughed because this is always Mom's ritual for admiring her hair.

I wheeled Mom back to her room for a manicure.

As I trimmed and filed her nails, I felt fortunate that I was able to do this for her. She'd had it rough the past few months, enduring falls, seizures and numerous trips to the ER, but she somehow always bounced back.

During our girl-time sessions together, our conversations usually become deeper.

"I'm trying to be strong. I got a lot of kids that I love. I want to be strong and I want to live long," she said.

After a long, pensive pause, she added, "Could I get this taken care of in a couple months?"

"Get what taken care of?" I asked as I painted her nails hot pink.

"Whatever's wrong with me," she replied.

My heart sank. "You're doing just fine, Mom."

"I love you so much and the care that you give me. Don't think that I don't appreciate it 'cause I do. I think about it a lot. It's kind of hard to do these things alone," she said, nodding at me painting her nails.

"That's why I'm here, Mom."

"I know, and I love it. I like being close, 'cause we're still best friends, right?"

I stop what I'm doing, give Mom a kiss and look into her eyes.

"We are best friends Mom, and we always will be."

Editor's note: In Lisa Moore's column, "Generations," she writes about the challenges she experiences as a member of the Sandwich Generation: those caring for a parent and a child.