Rainy days at the beach invoke parental ingenuity. Idle time motivated us to remind our pig-tailed seven-year-old of her goal to turn a good deed. Carefully crafted wheedling soon garnered not only her agreement to go through with it, but also her enthusiasm.
The first cut, however, is the deepest ... and the shortest, so the second had to match it. She inhaled deeply. Giant droplets seeped from her eyes, despite fierce efforts to dam them up. The rattled hairstylist begged her not to cry. Loss crossed her face like rain clouds over a sunny day. The loose thread of my own composure started to unravel.
I grappled with my speechlessness by gregariously celebrating her courage. Still, she grieved. It broke her daddy's heart to see his tender child conflicted. Nonetheless, the deed, good as it was, was done.
A few days later, we drove west on the Island Expressway toward Savannah, headed home, our daughter ruminating about her friends' reactions to her bobbed coif, fixating on the worst. I asked my co-conspirator, "Where's that bag?"
Deftly piloting our auto, he replied, "What bag?"
"That blue bag." THE bag, I anxiously thought. "I left it right here on the floorboard so we wouldn't forget it."
"What was in it?"
"The locks," I whispered through my teeth, dragging out the word "locks," ending on the up-note, to clue him in to the disaster du jour, without alerting our offspring, particularly the girl.
Confusion closed in on him like quotation marks. Then, Bing! Wires connected. Centrifugal force slung me to the right, plastering me against the car door. He hit the brakes, stopping short of a full U-turn. "Did you look?" he gasped. "We've got to search the car before we go all the way back." Completing the turn toward Tybee, he pulled over, jumped out, snatched open the passenger door, and ransacked everything under our daughter's feet.
This prompted bird cries of interrogation, "What are you doing? What are y'all looking for?"
"Nothing," he mumbled, pushing down panic.
No time to bubble-wrap the guilt over doubling our daughter's anguish, I bruised him with honesty. "I know you. When you cleaned out the car, you picked up everything, without looking at it, and threw it away."
"Why are we going back?" the kids needled as we drove east, very, very fast.
"I feel sick," my husband confided, then answered the magpies, "I forgot something."
Gray silence pierced by incessant questions marked the 20 mile return to the island. Arriving at Chu's Convenience Mart, he parked beside the gas tanks. "We came all the way back to get gas?" Our oldest detected the absurdity and chipped away at the mystery. "Didn't we pass like three gas stations, twice now? On the way home and on the way back? Is the gas better here?"
"Yes," I returned volley, with equal sarcasm. "It's beach gas. Everything's better at the beach."
Meanwhile, the top half of my hubby disappeared into a large, black barrel. "Why is Daddy digging in the trash?" Before I could glare at the grand inquisitor, his daddy's head popped up and in his hand he held . . . THE bag.
"Are they in there?" I held my breath.
"Is what in there?" The 13 year-old Sherlock couldn't help himself.
"I accidentally threw away your sister's hair."
Sweet day, our lass laughed. "It's a good thing you knew where to look, Daddy. There's a little girl who needs it."
She did it for Locks of Love. He did it for lots of love. And through their loss they both found they're somebody's hero.
(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson. Lucy invites readers to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her web site, www.IfMama.com. To learn more about donating to Locks of Love, visit http://www.locksoflove.org.)