Teenagers! Swirls of hormones, emotion, and attitude that drift in and out of my home. What distresses me most is that my son seems to be the king of them. He’s become aloof and distant and I’m not allowed to touch him. Even worse, he walks out the room if my cancer treatments are mentioned. It’s as though he doesn’t care.
I sigh as I fold laundry and deposit it into neat piles. Today’s a good day and my energy levels are higher than they’ve been for a while. Maddy’s T-shirts, training bras and track suits go in one basket and Anna’s sequinned tops, skimpy skirts and tights go in another. I hold Brad’s jeans, hoodies and skull shirts to my chest before placing them in his basket. Why does he hate me so much?
I found money in his room last week. A wad of it stuffed into an envelope. I confronted him and it led to a big row that brought us back to the same old thing. His hair. I hate the way he wears it, hanging in dreadlocked ropes, beads and shells woven into the strands.
Where would he have got the money from? Selling drugs? Theft? A secret job? I threatened to confiscate it but he snatched it back and held it over my head. “You can’t beat me, Mom. You’ll find out one day where it came from.”
I carry the laundry to the relevant rooms and linger by each child’s bed. The doctor says my prognosis is good and once the treatment is completed, I should make a full recovery. I pray he’s right. The children need me and ...
“Mom!” Maddy screeches from her spot by the TV. “Mom! Quick! You’ve got to see this!”
I drop everything and rush to find out what’s happening. Her gaze is fixed on the screen as a Cheshire-cat reporter interviews a young man. His head is bald and smooth and in the background I recognise the Cancer Foundation logo.
“It’s Brad!” Maddy shouts. “She introduced him. He cut off his hair, Mom.”
I sink into a chair, totally sidelined by what is unfolding before me. The profile is familiar and as I mentally add hair, I realise it is my son. “So tell us why you did it, Brad,” the reporter purrs.
“My mom has cancer and I wanted to do something to help. I heard about the fundraiser months ago and decided to auction off my hair.” He laughs and looks directly at the camera. “I’ve been collecting money for the last couple of weeks but still have a few locks available.”
The reporter picks up a rope of hair and waves it around. “To all our viewers out there, please call in a bid if you’d like to support this worthy cause.”
If a little green man from Mars landed on my lap I couldn’t be more astonished than I am right now. Somewhere under all that teenage stuff, my son really does care. He cut off his cherished dreadlocks because of my cancer. A sense of wonder and awe buds and then bursts forth like a fountain. I push aside the guilt at the way I spoke to him; the accusations I made, and bask in the glow of his sacrifice. Suddenly those matted strings are no longer a source of conflict. They are cords of love that will bind us together forever.
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