The Only Annual “Shave Mom’s Hair off Party!”

Ok, people. “Clean sweep! Fore and Aft! Sweepers … Man your brooms!”

Just one of the chants, ditties, aphorisms, words of wisdom and occasional military drinking songs I learned from my dad. Every time I give voice to one of those little gems, I say a quiet “Hi” to Dad, who I believe is just passing through.

I have brain surgery on Monday, April 5. Holy shit. Never thought I’d give voice to those words, did I?

Well, if I’m going down this road, 1) I’m going to be dancing. 2) It’s going to be funny, even – or especially – if it’s not. And 3) I’ll be getting by with a little help from my friends and sons and son’s girlfriend and family … and the wonderful nurses who will care for me … and the brilliant surgeon who will help me be me for a while longer.

And I have decided that this little journey is going to be chronicled visually, not solely with words. To that end, I contacted one of the best peeps in the world, and one of my former Gold Beach students, Desi! I am so blessed to be friends on FaceBook with former students.

Their memories, shared so happily, are what I treasure. “You were so hard! I learned so much! Oh! There’s the look! I remember that look!” They tell me how I challenged them, and I say it’s because I knew they could do more. How I held them to such high standards. And I tell them, of course I did, they were my students. I loved them. Why would I not? And that was the key. They knew, and they know, that I love them, and will always see them as “mine”

But why Desi now? Because she is a great photographer with three long-suffering photogenic kids. She, however, said “no” when I asked her to take some nice pictures of me – the “before” shots. There was someone she knew, though, a professional photographer, who might be able to help us out.

Which is how Jared and I found ourselves under the St. John’s Bridge on a cold, blustery afternoon in March. With Desi, her daughter, and one amazing photographer. Casi was a godsend and we had such a fun time. My arms are crossed in a number of the shots – for no other reason than it was freezing cold and the rain was falling sideways. There are some pictures where I am laughing so hard I can’t stand up straight, and one where I’m starting to dance. Casi was able to capture some wonderful moments of the day (who ever thought I’d end up teaching Desi a line dance under a bridge?).

Fast forward to April 3, Holy Saturday, two days before the first surgery, you will find me first at 6:00 am down on the Waterfront to take my umpteenth COVID test. But even better … the afternoon will find us celebrating the Only Annual “Shave Mom’s Hair Off” party with Matt and his hair clippers?? Yes. At OHSU they shave one’s whole head for this operation, and I want to see what my head looks like without incisions and sutures.

Bring in Desi, and her camera, and her brilliant smile, and her amazing heart. And wine. Don’t forget the wine. Because Desi wants to see me with a mohawk. And I said “yes.”

Of course I did.

P.S. I highly recommend Casi Yost Photography (