The New Ol’ Me

10/12/16, Dear Diary,
I’ve decided. This is the moment I’ve thought about and postponed for years. I’m going to do it, or I should say, not do it – going to stop coloring my hair. As I looked in the mirror this morning, I had an epiphany – the hair doesn’t match the face. I have an appointment with Rebecca, my hairstylist, tomorrow and I’ll seek her guidance about taking the first step, beginning January 1.

10/13/16, Dear Diary,
Rebecca had a different plan. She loved the idea, but asked, “Why wait until January? Let’s start now!”
“Um, I guess there really is no reason to wait,” I sputtered and took a deep breath as she began her magic. The first step was to lighten up my hair, to get rid of the darker shade of brown gradually. She told me the process would take about six to seven months to complete. I left her salon this morning a bit blonder with gray/white roots beginning to pop up, feeling positive, though a bit wary.

11/1/16, Dear Diary,
People are beginning to notice, and I have to decide how I will explain what I’m doing. I know that I don’t want to say, “I’m letting the gray grow in.” It sounds sad, like I’m letting my chin sag or my belly flop. “Going gray” is another phrase I don’t care for, like “going to the dogs.” Final decision: I will say, “I’ve stopped coloring my hair.” With a smile, of course. It’s simple and sounds decisive.

11/16/16, Dear Diary,
I think I’m heading for a bumpy road ahead. I’m now seeing white, blond, light brown, dark brown, and gray. What’s the adjective for five-color hair? Pentahaired? When Rebecca finished my cut today, she said, “Promise me you won’t look at the back when you get home.” Uh oh. Of course I looked as soon as I could – well, let’s just say it’s different. Here we go, and just in time for Thanksgiving with the family! I might need to get a hat.
Post Holidays, 2016, Dear Diary,
We saw the family over Thanksgiving, and everyone had positive things to say about my journey. Even the grandkids told me they were “starting to like” my hair, and that was comforting. I left the hat in my suitcase. At this point, my hair is pretty darn white mixed with mostly blond highlights, and although I’m impatient at times for it to be over completely, it’s starting to look much better than the rainbow look.
Observations of my fellow man/woman over the last weeks: Quite unexpectedly, I’m finding that people are friendlier to me. Men, women, kids, grocery store clerks, and people I pass on my walks – all smile and say hello.
Every one of my women relatives and friends has supported me completely, and often feel compelled to offer advice. More than once I’ve been told, “You should get yourself a red lipstick, really red. Oh, and wear more blush. How about some big silver earrings? Wear black! Wear white!” I’m getting dizzy. And then, “Cal, now you need to get yourself a great pair of sunglasses.”
Aside from my cheerleader husband who calls me The Silver Fox, the men in my life do not comment on my hair. Not one. The only time they will is if I look them in the face, point to my head, and ask, “Well, what do you think?” Can you guess what they say? Something on the order of, “Nice, nice, grumble, grumble.”
I’m getting more “Ma’ams” then I ever have before. When I was offered help with my suitcase while traveling to NYC recently, it got me thinking about a lot of discussions on ageism these days. I wondered if the young man helping me with my suitcase was being ageist. Or was he being kind? Perhaps it was an innocent combination. Whether I like it or not, my new aura sends a distinctive message – I’m seen as a senior, and I’d like to be seen as more than that label and what it might imply. Although I will always appreciate the “kindness of strangers,” I’ll never use the “old lady card,” and I feel it’s my job to illustrate how those of us who may project the image of incapability can, in fact, be productive, curious, involved, lifelong learners, and active participants in society.
On a lighter side, here’s a surprising perk: I was in the grocery store the other day, and I swore that some older dude with a gorgeous head of white hair was checking me out as I passed him. I warned my husband that he better watch out.

1/1/17, Dear Diary,
Here it is January 1, and instead of just beginning to turn the page, as initially planned, I’m halfway there! I should be happy, but I seem to be on an emotional roller coaster lately. I’m still adjusting. I ordered a Mindfulness course to help me get myself back on track to accepting my life and its changes.

4/10/17, Dear Diary,
It’s been a while since I’ve written you, and I think that’s a good sign this “new ol’ me” has settled in with the woman she sees in the mirror each morning. I’m almost at the finish line as Rebecca and her talent continues to improve my new look. I think it’s time to end this saga, Dear Diary, and I’d like to do so with a message from my six-year-old granddaughter, Zoe.
A few weeks ago, Zoe approached my daughter and said, “Mom, I have a question. Now that Nana has white hair, will she be going to heaven soon?” My daughter answered, “Oh, no, Zoe, Nana has had white hair for a long time, but she colored it for many years and now she’s decided to let her natural color grow in,” reassuring her that my white hair doesn’t bring me any closer to the Pearly Gates. Zoe was relieved, thought about it a minute and said, “That’s good to know. You know what, Mom? I’m proud of Nana for being herself.”
You know what, Zoe? Me, too. I’m proud of me, too.

Author’s Bio: Carolyn Fahey lives and writes in Weaverville, NC:

Written by Carolyn Fahey