Friday, May 5, 2006

Hair Day

Well, yesterday was "hair" day for me. About every week or week and a half Jo Anne takes a good, critical look at me, and announces that I am unfit to be seen in public.  Those words are like a dagger in my heart because I know what is coming and I can't defend myself.  She has a little instrument that runs off batteries that has tiny blades rotating at a high rpm that she shoves up my nose to cut out any extraneous hair.  It is only supposed to cut the hair but inevitably it manages to chew up a little tissue as well.  If the rotating blades don't get all the hair she comes at me with her little scissors -- and all the while I am screaming, groaning and shouting "Quad abuse!"  With my nose now having achieved a satisfactory rating, she concentrates her efforts on my ears.  Accompanied by groans, screams, and accusatory "Quad abuse" statements on my part, she calmly inserts her little scissors in my ears, cuts out any extra hair, and digs out any foreign matter that she doesn't feel should be there.  I now give a sigh of relief because the worst is over -- but not completely.  She next attacks my eyebrows telling me that no husband of hers is ever going to look like Andy Rooney and then using a combination electric razor and hair clipper device she trims up my hair, what little I have, to her specified standard of excellence.  About this time I am very happy and relieved but yet lurking in the back up my mind is the painful thought that this process will be repeated in the not too distant future.

Parenthetically, the word "hair" almost cost me my life shortly after my accident.  One night in the rehabilitation hospital about 2 a.m. a Hispanic nurse's aide -- a sweet little woman -- was performing a procedure on me. As she worked over me I could sense that the hose that runs from my throat to the respirator was coming loose and I wasn't breathing really well.  I looked at this little lady and said in a gasping way "My air, my air, I'm losing my air!"  With great compassion in her eyes and voice she responded, "Mr. Rushton, don't worry, you have lots of "hair"."  Then with my last breath I murmured "No, my air, my air." She insightfully rejoined "You shouldn't worry so much about your "hair" -- it's OK." At that point the hose popped off my throat, I quit breathing, and the little Hispanic lady never had a clue what was happening.  The alarms went off thankfully, and two nurses ran in from the nursing station to save my life.

Getting back to Jo Anne and her handling of my hair problems -- I have thought a great deal about it over the years.  In her eyes the way I look is a reflection on the type of care I receive from her and the kind of person she is.  I believe she feels she will be judged by others by the way I look.  It goes far beyond that however, in that I believe she loves me enough to care about things that no one else would even think about.  She understands that my groaning and complaining about "Quad abuse" is just a lot of hot air and knows how much I truly appreciate her desire and willingness to make me feel and look as good as she possibly can. She has been waging war in our home against dirt in any of its forms all of our married life. There is no way that she is going to let her quadriplegic husband look disheveled, dirty, unkempt, unshaved or not dressed in the best and most appropriate outfit available.  My wheelchair, which is such an extension of me, is dusted daily, cleaned, and even the wheels are checked to make sure they are spotless.  Though not much to look at, I go out in public with great confidence knowing that Jo Anne has made me as presentable as possible.  Doctors and nurses are amazed that I am 17 years into my injury and look and feel as good as I do.  They stand in awe of the quality of care I have received at her hands for such a lengthy period of time.  What I look like, and my attitude of faith and hope, really tell you much more about Jo Anne then they do of me.

I believe that cleanliness and orderliness and being in control of one's life are really such an important part of what life is all about. These things communicate better than words what our true character really is.  I will never forget my first trip to Nauvoo in the early seventies and how impressed I was with my visit to the Wilford Woodruff home.  The guide took us from room to room in this beautiful brick home and in the main parlor told us how in the haste of fleeing from Nauvoo to escape the wrath of the mob the piano had inadvertently been pushed into the wall leaving a gaping hole.  Wilford Woodruff paid a man to come and patch the wall of the home they were abandoning so that whoever occupied it after their departure would know that people of substance and quality had lived there.  That was a great lesson to me as a young married man regarding the importance of beautifying and taking care of one's home as best as possible.  Our homes are such a reflection of who we are.  They don't need to be luxurious or ostentatious but they should be clean and orderly.

When the Church builds a temple it is made of the finest materials and put together by the best artisans and craftsmen available.  We go to great extremes to ensure that each temple is really a precious jewel.  Why? Because these temples are "The Houses of the Lord".  They are a reflection of Him and who He is.  Similarly, our personal appearance and our homes are a reflection and an extension of who we really are.

I know we can go overboard and be obsessed by appearance and style, but true cleanliness and orderliness is never out of style.

In the little Mayan Indian village of Patzun located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala in the late 1950s you would have been impressed with the home of Thomas Coo Coo.  Thomas was a member of the Church as well as the mayor of the village.  In these little Indian villages, the homes of the Indians were made of adobe walls with a thatched roof.  Their source of heat and cooking was a little fire pit in the middle of the room with no provision for getting the smoke out of the home.  Consequently most of the Indian women went around with weeping, smarting eyes from the constant exposure to the smoke.  Soon after his baptism, and in counseling with the elders who baptized him, Thomas had a desire to get the smoke out of his house.  They introduced to him the concept of a fireplace with a chimney and with their assistance they actually built one in his little hut.  Thomas' home was free of smoke and a wonder to his neighbors in that little village.  The light of the Gospel in his life was evident in his beautiful, healthy, smoke-free one-room home.

I think our appearance and homes should be a reflection of the light we have in our lives.


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