April 4, 2008

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Good advice: Pretty is as pretty does

Shirley Vogler MeisterRecently, I told my friend, Gail Renderman, who lives in Wisconsin and is Catholic, how one Sunday after Mass a poised, lovely woman complimented me on my skin.

This startled me! If so, I attribute this to genetics and my mother’s advice to use mild soap.

Through e-mails with Gail, I also shared how once, when feeling particularly dowdy, I asked a hairdresser to change my “look.”

My husband didn’t notice the flamboyant hairdo for hours.

More recently, I suggested that my hairdresser “cut it all off.” Wisely, she didn’t. I came home with straight bobbed hair and bangs, another complete change.

This time, my husband noticed and approved, and when our middle daughter came for a visit, she said, “Mom, that’s sassy!”

After sharing this with Gail, she told me how once she went to a friend who had just completed cosmetology school. Gail got a different haircut. Her husband didn’t notice, either.

Next, she had her hair highlighted, but the chemical made her hair like straw. Her husband noticed. The hairdresser then “softened” this with a perm that burned already damaged hair, resulting in three inches of “straw” sticking out. This time, her husband really noticed.

Someone suggested that she needed color back in her hair so she went from blonde to white to dark auburn. Her husband noticed with distress: The cost was outrageous.

Now he sometimes waits for his wife in the salon, probably hoping to fend off other disasters. However, now even he can laugh about this.

Gail and her husband usually handle bad situations with grace and class. Like me, she has myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular problem.

Like my husband, her husband is supportive.

However, she is more incapacitated than I and needs a motorized wheelchair to continue her work with Mary Kay Cosmetics.

As for the ruined hairstyles, she graciously told others, “I needed a spunky new style to go along with my spunky new personality.” (She had been shy up to that point.)

Near her desk, she has an Ann Landers quotation: “Class is an aura of confidence that is being sure without being cocky. Class has nothing to do with money. Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and

self-knowledge. It’s the sure-footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life … and laugh!”

Gail credits her faith-filled grandmother for good advice, too, such as, “Smile bigger when you hurt the most. … It will keep others wondering why you’re so happy,” and “When you can’t go to God’s house, ask God to come to yours.”

I remember hearing a dear family related great-grandmother, now 90-plus, say to her granddaughter: “Pretty is as pretty does.”

Yes! How we live with what we’ve got on good days and bad days is what is really important.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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