My mother kept a lock of my hair from the first time I had my haircut as a baby. I remember seeing an envelope with a lock of hair inside as well as a card from a hospital nursery. “Welcome, Baby Girl Paradela,” it said. My weight and height, the color of eyes and hair written below.
Since then, I have observed how hair has been used as keepsakes in many ways. Soldiers leaving a lock of hair for their lovers before they head out to war. Sending a lock to a friend or family member who lives far. Keeping a lock of hair in a pendant so you’ll have a part of a departed loved one close to your heart.
“Locks of hair have long served as sentimental and tangible reminders of deceased or far-away friends and close relations. Among family, friends and romantic partners, exchanging a lock of hair was a sign of mutual esteem and deep affection. Upon the death of a loved one, locks of hair were often cut and kept as a way to both honor and remember the dead” (“Hairwork Jewelry,” FIDM Museum Blog, 5/16/2011).
I’ve had the extreme fortune of knowing Zed Payne. In Big Bro’s Barber Shop’s website, Zed is described as “a queer hairdresser, fiber artist, painter and Mom who has called East Van home before it was hip to do so.” In one of my visits to Zed, I learned another way of honoring the dead through hair.
Zed is one of those people who you feel easily comfortable with. I keep going back to her for my hair care not just because she’s excellent at what she does but also because she’s a bigger-than-life character! Imagine a hair stylist, artist, therapist and storyteller slash comedian rolled into one. More importantly she’s such a kind person with a generous heart. No wonder many of her clients become friends. One of those clients who became a friend was June.
June died unexpectedly late last year. Zed didn’t know this until another client-friend told her several months after. That’s why she hasn’t dropped by the salon for quite a while, Zed thought.
Jolene was a self-made woman, full of life and love for others. She was an entrepreneur and activist. Early this year, on what
would have been June’s birthday, Zed together with a colleague and a friend went to PACE Society where June used to work. In honor of June, they offered free haircuts to the folks there. Zed and her companions, together with some of the people that PACE Society serve, enjoyed a birthday cake and shared some stories about Jolene. About how June lived (and laughed!) big. How she loved and cared for others. About what a lovely human being she is and how much she will be missed.
It was through the care of her hair that June was connected to Zed. It was just fitting that Zed honoured June by offering free haircuts to the women and men that June cared about. It’s a wonderful way of celebrating someone’s life!
In what ways have you honored the lives of your loved ones?
Your fellow mortal,
PACE Society is in the Downtown Eastside. They offer “low-barrier programming and support to serve Vancouver’s most marginalized populations; people who often fall through the cracks due to ineligibility for services that require a fixed address or drug and alcohol abstinence can access services. In this respect, PACE is on the frontline of support for those in Vancouver who need it most. PACE is made up of dedicated, compassionate individuals who are committed to providing Sex Worker-led and driven programs and services to Sex Workers.” If you’re interested to know more about PACE Society, check out their website at https://www.pace-society.org/.