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Charitable.

Full of unconditional love.  Goddess.Counselor. 

Silver-haired. Fun.

Bad at small talk.

Moody. 

Dedicated. Nana.

Hard-Working. Kind Generous. Bitch.

Non-judgmental.

Strong.

Compassionate.

What do you do?

       I'm an administrative assistant. I work in a garage with 18 mechanics, and I have 6 supervisors. I do invoices and purchase orders.

Are you married?

       I'm in a relationship

do you have children?

       I do. I have a 41 year old son who I am estranged from. I also have two granddaughters who are adults now, that I'm very close to. I want to have a good relationship with them, so I stay involved in their lives.

What is your cultural or DNA background?

       I am half Czechoslovakian, my dad was full Czechoslovakia and my mom is German Irish and English. 

When did you notice your first gray hair? 

    I had one white hair when I was born. Gosh, I've always had a couple of white hairs, but when I was younger it was just one or two.

Did anyone ever pull out your white hairs?

       Yes my mom would, or I would do it. I would sit in school, find that white hair, and pull it out. My little granddaughter, what a doll, when she was four or five I was sitting on the stoop, and she was standing above me. I could feel her little fingers inside my hair. She said, "Nana, do you know you have white hair?" I said, "Yes sweetie, I do." Then she said, "My mommy pulls her white hairs out, but if you did that you would be bald." Out of the mouths of babes.

"My mommy pulls her white hairs out,

but if you did that you would be bald."

Did you color your hair?

       I used to use henna. I did red henna because my hair was dark brown with some red colors already in it. After I used the henna, I had a red scalp for a while afterward. It wasn't permanent, so it would slowly wash out.

How much did it cost?

       It wasn't really an expense for me. It came as a powder in a big green can that I mixed up and put on my hair. I would leave it on for an hour or so, and then rinse it out.

So you didn't have it colored at a salon?

       No, I've always been a do it myself type of gal.

I'm interested in the cost of dye and how they market it to older women.

       Oh yes I remember, "Cover those stubborn greys!" I have had people ask me if I deliberately do this to my hair. People have asked me what Salon I go to to get this effect. My hair has an ombre look to it that is all natural. White hair has a different texture to it too. My hair used to be smooth with heavy waves in it, but my white hair is pretty frizzy. At first when i was growing out my hair I had to deal with hair that went out in a big triangle. I look like f**** Jane Hathaway from The Beverly Hillbillies, you know. Oh God, that triangle. Once it gets down past your shoulders, it is a totally different ball game. My hair doesn't really take cutting like that anymore. My hair is fragile because it is so frizzy, so I don't do any styling or straightening because I don't want it to break off. I've got a perfectly white stripe alongside my head, but I have dark stripes that run down the back. There are places where my hair has been breaking off and darker hair will show through from underneath. 

"People have asked me what salon I go to 

to get this effect." 

Did you have to do your makeup differently or  change your style?

       Yes it made me wear more pink makeup. I used to wear red tones, but pink is more harmonious with white hair. I researched online a while ago “What is it that makes me look so washed out?" There's just a few things like darkening up the eyebrows, adding a bit of eye-shadow , and a little blush and you look 10 years younger, even though I look older because of the white hair.As it grows out, it starts to look like your face is becoming one with your hair, so I use more blush now.

Why did you stop coloring your hair?

       I had a traumatic experience when I dyed my hair and it turned orangutan orange. I called Clairol, the dye company, and they told me to put more dye on top of it to counteract it, but it just turned to brassy orangutan orange, so I decided that was the last time that I would ever dye my hair. I think maybe it was my hair telling me it was enough.

Were you scared to stop dying your hair to make the change?

       Yes because  my ex-husband liked me looking younger. He didn't want me to look older because he believed that my white hair would make him look older. I told him I didn't want to keep doing it just to make him happy. But then I had to cut it really short because of the orangutan orange while I grew out. After a while I finally got used to seeing myself in the mirror. I was in my forties when that happened.

"He believed that my white hair

would make him look older."

What were your views about gray haired women prior to becoming great yourself? 

       I thought gray hair made people look older. I had preconceived notions about ladies with gray hair. The only women I saw with gray hair when I was growing up was my grandma. All the other women colored their hair, and the men used Grecian Formula that they even put in their beards. I liked the way my white hairs would flame red when I used dye, like red highlights. But, I decided it was like putting poison on my head. You have to leave it on for a half hour while your skin absorbs those chemicals. Chemical burns, yuck. Is it worth it to dye my hair to put chemicals on my head? I have strong feelings about chemicals, so I made the decision for myself, that I just don't do it.

What do you think causes gray hair?

       I think it's genetic, because no matter how much I worry or don't worry when I look in the mirror it's still going gray. People say it's from stress or from experiencing a shock, but mine just keeps growing in no matter what's happening in my life. There could be some truth there, but I have to go with genetics for most of us. My hair comes from my dad's side of the family. My mom had an affair with someone and got pregnant with me. She married another man and tried to pass me off as his daughter, but he was Italian. I found all this out when I was 30 years old. When I found my biological dad, he had already passed. I found his family, and where he lived, and as soon as they saw the pictures of me, they knew I was his daughter. I look just like him. We have the same horsey face, and he has white hair. He went white at 18, and never colored his hair. My mom remembers that he had a lot of white hair.

"As soon as they saw the pictures of me,

they knew I was his daughter."

Do you feel older with gray hair?

       No.

Do you get treated any different with gray hair?

       No.

Would you recommend women grow out their gray hair?

       Yes. I've had four different women come up to me from this group I belong to, who have said that they were inspired because of my hair. Two of them actually went through with it, and came up to me to show me their new hair. I think it looks amazing. They said they wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been for me.

       People have offered me the senior discount before I was ready, but I'm not offended, I always say yes! I don’t care what your perception of me is. You've got no idea who I am. when I look in the mirror or see pictures pictures of myself...... well,  I remember my grandma saying, "When I look in the mirror, I see a stranger." but I still feel like me regardless of what I look like on the outside. 

"I don’t care what your perception of me is.

You've got no idea who I am."

What age do you consider old?

       Maybe when you're 90. When I was 16, I thought 21 was old. When you're 21, 40 is so old, holy crap. But when you turn 40, you think, "Well maybe 80 is old." But now that I'm 60, I think maybe 90 is old. My mom is 82, and I don't really consider her old. Age is just a number, and she is just as immature as ever, but she's really working on it. My mom hardly has any white hair, and she's never dyed it. She has a few skunk streaks, but she has no real white. My hair is totally from my dad. They've had kids born with white hair on my dad's side of the family. I can accept that part of my genetic lottery.

Do you think appearance influences opportunity?

       Yes, because if you dress nice people treat you differently than if you dress slouchy. I'll even dress up to go to Walmart, and put on my boots, and people will go out of their way to compliment me on my fancy studded boots. Often times our white hair doesn't fit the stereotypes.

what are you most proud of in your life?

       That my granddaughters and I have really strong relationships, and that they are not dead. I know it’s sad, but their dad and mom were terrible parents, and I moved around quite a bit to follow their family because it only takes two jumps and people can be gone from your life. I am estranged from my son because I wouldn't declare sides when they broke up. I couldn't cut the girls out of my life, and I'm still close with them.

       I'm proud that I'm not a selfish person. I just keep going every day. My son and his ex-wife's difficulties have been really painful for the girls, but I've worked really hard to keep my relationship strong with them. I'm also a hard worker. I've always worked. I've been working since I was 16, and It's just a part of my life. I've always stepped up to help support people. I'm one of those types of people. I can't provide everything, but you can always call me.

"I've worked really hard to keep my relationship strong."

 

       I'm also proud of the relationship I'm in, because growing up the way I did, I've always had relationship problems, but I seem to be overcoming it finally. I have a good partner. He's willing to stick it out and not let me go. I've got a keeper.

What are some words that would be used to describe you?

       Charitable. Full of unconditional love. Non-judgmental. I try to be a good goddess, and a good counselor for my granddaughters. Nana. Silver-haired. Fun. Bad at small talk, and can be found standing in the corner. A lot of times people have been drinking, and I don't drink, and I don't want to deal with it, so I'll just go outside and take a picture of that bush or that cloud.

       I'm dedicated and hard-working. I'm never late for work. I can be kind and generous, but also a bitch and moody. I don't like rap music. I am strong. I am compassionate to a degree. My rose colored glasses are broken but I pretend that they're not. Here, let me put those suckers right back on. When I start getting down on myself my boyfriend reminds me that I am who I am because of the path of my life. If I don't like where I am, then I'll do something to change it. Right now I'm pretty happy, until the next thing happens. You can't go through life without things happening.

"My rose colored glasses are broken

but I pretend that they're not."

What have you had to overcome?

       I had abusive parents, and I was bullied a lot in school because I lost my front teeth in a car crash. For a long time I wore bridges that would fall out. I went to a Catholic school with the same kids who hated me, so I was tortured and bullied throughout that whole time. I didn't learn social interaction, because we were a Catholic family in a Mormon community. I rode my bus everyday to the Catholic school and then rode the bus home, but I couldn't play with the neighbors because they thought that we had horns. I had a traumatic childhood.

       I married a guy when I was 17, but I was way too immature for marriage. Then I had my son when I was 20, and I ended up living in my car for a while, and that's when I started being stalked by a guy who I ended up getting married to. Later on he told me the reason he was so attracted to me was because I looked like his mother. Everyone kept saying how I looked exactly like her, and at first I thought it was sweet, but then his dad came on to me saying how much I looked like her. It got weird on many levels, and I tried to leave him many times. He was a very abusive husband.

 

       The first time I divorced him, I moved away, but he found me. He gradually isolated me and wore me down. We got remarried, and I was planning to divorce him again, but I knew he would never ever leave me alone.There is no way I would be able to date anyone, or move on with my life. He was obsessed with me. He would follow me wherever I would go. He put me on a pedestal, but one year he had over 60 Affairs. He was afraid of treating me inappropriately, so he would pick up prostitutes and women and bars. when he died 12 years ago, the burden was lifted. It is a sad thing when someone dies, but I experienced so much relief. 

"The first time I divorced him,

I moved away, but he found me,

and gradually isolated me

and wore me down."

       I've also overcome alcoholism, I have been sober for five years, and it is changed my life. I don't go to AA meetings anymore, but I went for two years to learn how to live sober. When I went through the steps of making amends, I went up to a boyfriend who I had dated on and off when I was drinking, and I said, "I'm sorry for treating you so bad when I was drinking, please forgive me." and now we've been together for three years. I've come full circle. Making amends is really hard. To look someone in the eyes and hope that they will forgive you, but also not blame them if they don't. It was a really good experience, and I haven't drank since. 

Is there anything you would like to celebrate?

       I like to celebrate my birthday every year, because I'm still here a year later, and I get to look back, and I also get to look forward. I celebrate my granddaughters. The one who is 18 is working two jobs. On her first day at a hospice care facility one of the patients died. When I asked her how it made her feel, she said she felt so blessed that she got to be there for them on the last days of their life. Her boss knew right away that she would be good fit there, so a week later, he took her up to the second story, and he opened a office door, and there was her name on the desk. He offered her a better position, and she is so excited. I bought her new scrub pants in celebration of her new position. 

       I'm also celebrating learning, and getting smarter. I'm celebrating everything I can. I celebrate another day waking up. I celebrate another day of being sober. I celebrate that my granddaughters are still alive. My partner loves me. My mother is still alive. My son is still alive. I also have good friends. One of my girlfriends gave me this cute little purse just because I admired it.

"I'm celebrating everything I can.

I celebrate another day waking up."

Did you have any other stories or anything else to add?

        Well, I would say that there is actual pressure around going gray. People would give me their Salon cards, and offer to color it for me thinking it was about the money. It's not about the money, it's really about conforming to society. I don't believe in conformity, even though we do need a certain amount of it to play the game. I'm supportive of anyone who wants to do anything with their hair. If someone wants to go gray, I say go for it, but they should think about the perception of having gray hair, and how it will feel to be seen as older.

       We're all getting older, and we're all eventually going to die. White hair represents change, and change is the hardest thing. There needs to be a level of acceptance. My dad said he went to a funeral, and as he was looking around, he realized his friends were dropping like flies. He looked at his wife and said, "Who's next?" He was diagnosed within six months. He said, "Who would have thought that it was me who was going to go next." He died shortly after that.

       I belong to a big group of people, and we just lost someone, it's shocking. One of our friends fell after a night of dancing, he just fell and died. All of the friends in our social group are freaking out. He's one of us. It is really hard, but people come and go. I don't know about the afterlife, I've thought about it a lot, but nobody really knows. I wish I could see more colors in the air, and see how everyone is connected.

       I comfort myself with thinking that people haven't gone, they have just stepped over the Veil. Someone sent me something once that said it's like you're standing on a shore watching a ship sail away and you can't see the people on the other shore, but they are there to welcome the ship. 

"White hair represents change, and change is the hardest thing. 

There needs to be 

a level of acceptance."