Wigging out with Sister Tater


Apparently teenagers-in-chief Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump haven’t yet blown us all to smithereens. It isn’t for a lack of trying. Thanks a lot for absolutely nothing, Lindsey Graham. Don’t you just love it when folks who couldn’t pass the entrance exam to enlist feel perfectly emboldened to send our sons and daughters off to do their bloody bidding?

Good for the folks in Guam for not paying Trump and his alter-ego Kimmie Jong no never mind. As any mother of toddlers can attest to, fit-throwing is best ignored. The worst thing anyone can do is to affirm temper tantrums. I make it a point to always ignore those who demand attention by way of histrionics. And if there is one thing Trump and Kimmy Jong can’t stand, it’s being considered irrelevant and then ignored.

While Trump sat on the toilet tweeting with fire & fury, promising the hellfire and damnation that Dunder Head Robert Jeffress and Pat Robertson and the rest of the apocalyptic evangelicals seek, my sis and I went wig shopping.

“You are going to lose your hair.” The doctor said that to my sis with unabashed certainty. Not a maybe. Not a perhaps. But a you will.

Men lose their hair all the time. I’ve known a lot of bald-headed men. I’ve even known some very young bald-headed men. If it bothers them that they lost all their hair, they’ve never confessed any of that to me.

It seems different for women, though. People regard bald-headed women with more pity than they do bald-headed men.  There has historically even been a shame (wrongly) attached to bald-headed women.

When I was working on the novel BURDY, I happened upon this horrible story about how some of the French shaved the heads of women considered friends and/or escorts of the Germans. They would drag these women out to the public square, pull out the clippers and shear those women, right there in front of God and their cheering neighbors. The whole affair was meant to intimidate and humiliate the women for perceived wrongs they had done during the war.

It had its desired effect.

A woman’s hair is her glory, scriptures tell us.

Today’s stylist might add that for some women it’s also their biggest frustration.

The gal waiting on Sister Tater yesterday put herself in that category. She had suffered from hair loss since she was a young girl. Alopecia. My own daughter has experienced alopecia from time to time. And she has never lost all her hair, just patches of it. But the gal waiting on us, she had a more severe case of it.

Finally, fed up with losing hair on an intermittent basis, she shaved her head and began wearing wigs. Her own kids think nothing of their momma’s bald head. It’s what they have always known, but her experience of suffering through Alopecia makes her especially skilled and kind at counseling women who are going to lose their hair through chemotherapy.

Sister Tater has to undergo five months of chemo. While the cancer was relatively small, it was invasive and it was estrogen-positive. Without any treatment, she has a 1-in-4 chance of it returning. And the doctor was unabashed about that too. “If it returns, there will be great suffering.” And little chance for surviving. She said that, too.

Those were hard, hard words to hear.

I have a half-a-dozen friends right now who are measuring life in terms of percentage points. Buying their future by bartering with their todays.  I am praying for each one. I think of them when I’m driving and looking  out over the bay or the wheat fields, or when I’m running around doing errands, or even when I’m eating, thinking of the ways in which food, usually such a delight, has become unappealing.

Over an excellent lunch at Pellegrino’s (go there next time you’re in Olympia), Sister Tater and I rehashed the statistics, talked about her options, spoke about tending to our mama through her cancer ordeal. I cried right into the salad before me when I told my sis that no matter how much I want to be there for her, this is a lonely journey, one she and God has to make.

She knows that, of course. Making journeys with God is nothing new for her. She’s the one family member we all recognize as most devoted. She’s always walking on with God. Every. Single. Day.

But no matter how close a person is to God, none of us want to do the lonely things of life. Remember that whole prayer of Jesus in the garden thing?

Yeah. That.

One family member sent me a text telling me that she would shave her head in an effort to make my sis not feel so alone in this journey. “Don’t shave your head,” Sister Tater said. “Get a wig and wear one with me.”

I loved that.

Uncle Buck took his wife’s admonition to heart. He walked out of the house and came back in with a brand new hairdo of his own.


Sister Tater might not need the wig if Trump and the warring evangelicals get their apocalyptic desires. None of us will ever have to worry about our hair or the rise and fall of the Stock Market again.

We will all go on to walk with God.

Or whoever it is you keep company with.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of the forthcoming CHRISTIAN BEND (Mercer Univ. Press). Pre-order your copy now.





Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

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