“THE BRAID OF HAIR”
I was five years old staring intently up at a long gray braid of hair hanging by a thin nail on my Grandmother’s cement block basement wall. Every part of me longed to touch that braid even just for a moment. I was drawn to each strand, woven and crisscrossed, shining silver with light from a small window overhead. It was as if some unseen, enchanted force reached out and whispered softly for me to know it. But even if I were on the tips of my toes, stretching my arms and hands out and up as far as I could possibly reach, I could not touch it.
One day I noticed that there was an old wooden chair stored in a darkened corner of the basement. I went over to the chair and pushed it little by little across the hard cement floor until it was directly under the braid of hair. Then, I climbed up onto the chair and reached my arms and hands up as far as they would go. My fingers touched the braid for just a moment before I quickly pulled my hands back. Immediately, I was engulfed by the most horrible sadness I had ever felt. A deep well of utter despair and hopelessness traveled from the braid, into my fingers, down my arms, and then throughout my entire body. I stood there frozen for what seemed like an eternity as visions of horse drawn carriages, women with long dresses, men wearing gray hats, and fields of corn and wheat passed through my mind and body. I saw a man pushing a cart down a dusty old dirt road yelling, “Strawberries for sale”. Then, I saw an elderly woman sitting in front of an old mirror braiding her hair by the soft glow of candlelight. Her hands were gnarled and deformed with arthritis, and the creases in her skin ran as deep and long as her sorrow.
When the visions faded, I climbed down off of the chair and then went home. We lived right next door to my Grandmother when I was a child. I got under my covers and stayed there for the rest of the day. I never tried to touch the braid of hair again.
When I was grown, I asked my mother about the braid on the wall in my Grandmother’s basement. She told me that the hair belonged to her Great-Grandmother and that it was the only thing that they had left of her. She said that her Grandmother had cut the braid off right before the burial. It was something that was often done in those days as a keepsake from a loved one who had passed. My mother also told me that her Great-grandmother had been crippled with arthritis and spent most of her elderly years in a wheel chair.
My Great-Great Grandmother’s hair was the first memory that I have of being able to psychically receive visions and emotions from just touching a personal item that belonged to someone else. I had looked into my Great, Great Grandmother’s forgotten world through the strands of silver hair that she had left behind. I had seen her worn and wrinkled face, felt the unbearable pain she lived with, and touched the essence of her heart. I would never be the same again.
I have learned that this ability is called “Psychometry”. The ability to feel and know things by touching objects, a person’s hair, clothing, or even the walls, floor, and doors of a house, has been both a blessing and a curse for me throughout the years. I sometimes feel shy about the prospect of shaking a stranger’s hand, brushing up against someone in a crowded elevator, or being hugged by someone I barely know. It can be such a vulnerable and overwhelming thing. But it can also be one of the most enlightening and wonderful experiences I can ever have.
We all touch each other’s lives in one way or another every day. Relating to other people’s memories, feelings and circumstances, lets us know that we are not alone in this world. In my opinion, everyone is able to pick up on feelings, memories and visions through touch. Some people are consciously aware of it and some are not. It is one of the ways that we all communicate and connect to each other. It may be as ancient as the earliest human beings, even before the first spoken word was ever uttered.