Her eyes were blue.
Deep, piercing, intensive blue; like I had looked into a hot summer sky and found its gaze burning back at me.
Her granddaughter had driven her there, pushing her wheelchair into my salon for her perm appointment. She had to be in her nineties. Her face had more wrinkles than paper crumpled in the hands of a child. Her body was giving out on her, hardly letting her hold her head up for extended periods of time.
But her eyes were alive. It was like drinking a tall glass of ice water on a sweltering hot day. Her eyes grabbed me and shook me and told me I am HERE.
I took out the little peach-colored perm rods and sectioned off her hair, feeling for all the world like a dry sponge falling towards an ocean of water. She had so much knowledge and stories and experience wrapped up in a well-worn soul, and I could ask her anything.
Beginning the long process of rolling her hair, I started conversation as I usually do. I’ve narrowed down on questions people love to answer, asking about their family or if they have pets. It doesn’t take much after that for people to start rambling on about themselves and their life, quite forgetting I’m even doing their hair while they talk.
Everyone has stories. Everyone has something to surprise me.
If the others were chapters in a book I could write, she was an entire series. Her body might have crumbled away with age, but her mind was sharp and her memory strong.
She had been a very young girl during the Second World War. She could remember her two older brothers going off to fight and coming back home.
She had spent a summer at a farm when she was ten, and she told me about the people there who had taken her in like an extension of their family. She told me about Clive, the rooster that had terrorized her the entire summer, and John, the old farm hand who often rescued her from her feathered nemeses.
She told me about her faith, and how it was tested and strengthened through all her years. It was one thing she never regretted, something that had never let her down.
She’d fallen in love with a gentle man and stayed with him until the day he died. Her children were grandparents, sending her pictures with names written on the back so she can keep them all straight.
She had been to so many funerals and seen so many births, I could feel both the weight and joy they left behind in every word she spoke.
Then she asked me about myself, and what I enjoyed, and what I did.
It took me a moment to understand her questions because how could she possibly want to know about me? Something lifted inside me as I told her about my life, my slowly growing faith, and my dreams for the future. She truly listened to my story and grabbed my hand when I finished rinsing out her perm.
I’ll never forget what she said to me then. Her eyes had locked with mine as she told me how comforting it was to meet me.
Tears filled my eyes as she went on. She said she felt fresh hope, knowing a girl as young as myself still believed as she believed. Still hoped as she hoped. Still held to the faith she held so tightly.
Every time I feel alone, she’d said, God sends me someone like you to tell me that no, there are so many more.
Some people come into your life and leave a mark forever inside you.
And I know, etched into my soul, every word she spoke is lined in the deepest, brightest blue.