The Raleigh Roundup

Posted by Danny

I had the good fortune of being asked to speak at the Red Sword Guild’s  Raleigh Roundup last weekend.  The Roundup is an annual event that raises money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society.

When asked if I was willing to speak, I thought, “I’d walk to work naked in January to help find a cure for this crappy disease.  Heck yeah I’ll speak!”

Some of my thoughts that night came from a recent blog post so the beginning may be somewhat repetitive for some of you.  But I thought I’d share it nonetheless. 

A few weeks ago, I learned how to blow dry my 11-year-old daughter’s hair.

Her Nana had taken her to get a haircut and they decided to go with a short bob – longer in the front and I think they call it stacked in the back.  It was a really cute haircut; but two days later, Stephanie came home from school – the top layer of hair looked like a bush – it was poofed out like a head of broccoli.  She said, “Dad, my hair looks ridiculous!”  In my eyes, all three of my girls are always beautiful and I tried to convince her of such – but she didn’t buy it.

I suddenly had a vision of my wife – Stephanie looks just like Lisa did at that age.  And with Lisa, the weather or her mood or the amount of time she had in the morning all played a role in how her hair looked on a given day.  I don’t understand how the weather can affect your hair.  But my wife swore it did.  I remember one day when Lisa left home in the morning and her hair was enormous.  When I walked in the house that evening, her hair was straight and sleek and close to her head.

I said, “Baby, what happened to your hair?  It’s so small.  Is that a wig?”

I dont’ remember exactly how she responded to my question, but it may have been with a hand gesture.  “No, it’s not a wig you idiot!  I do not wear wigs.  I went to see Chris today.”  Chris was her stylist and apparently a hair miracle worker.  I asked, “How’d he do that?”  And she explained that he put some product in her hair that defrizzed it and then he blew it dry with a big round brush.

As I pondered Stephanie’s situation, a light bulb went off in my head.  “I can fix this Stephanie.  Your mom had this same thing happen – just trust me.”  I yelled upstairs to my 14-year-old daughter who also has curly hair.  “Do you have some of that goop that defrizzes hair?”  She did, but she warned Stephanie that maybe it wasn’t a good idea for me to get involved in this particular activity.  But I was determined.

While Stephanie took a shower, I collected all of the needed supplies.  First I slopped the goop throughout her scalp.  I held the brush with my right hand and used my left to wrap the hair.  But I couldn’t figure out what to do with the blow dryer – so, I tucked it under my chin.  I had Stephanie stoop down and turn in semi-circles as I worked the various sides of her head.  At one point, she said, “This is just weird dad.”

Twenty minutes later, she looked like she’d stepped right out of Chris’ salon.

I did it!  I tamed my 11 year old’s bushy doo.

But you know what?  I shouldnt’ have had to learn that.  Prior to February 2010, that was my wife’s role.  In fact, she handled most of the details of our household and most of the details of my three daughters’ lives.

Prior to 2010, I didn’t blow dry hair or by bows.  I didn’t line up the summer camp schedules or set up play dates or drive very many carpools.  I was a good dad, but I was more of the fun factor in our house.  I tickled and wrestled and snuggled.  Lisa did the rest.

When she was diagnosed with cancer Labor Day weekend, 2009, the fun stopped.  When she died six months later, I told a friend, “Our house use to be filled with joy and laughter.  I don’t know if that will ever come back.”

It’s been 20 months since we lost our lifeline.  She was the glue that held us all together.  Can you imagine telling your kids that their mother was gone…for good?  Cancer made me do that.

Cancer robbed our family.  It stole our innocence and many of our dreams.  To a great degree over the past two years, it has stolen our joy.

I just can’t seem to understand how we can put a man on the moon, how we can figure out how to drill for oil 10,000 feet under the surface of the ocean, how we can transplant someone’s heart from one human being to another, and yet, we can’t find a way to stop cancer.  That is unacceptable to me.

None of us can defeat this disease alone.  But collectively, we can make a difference.

It’s going to take money – I’m convinced that is how we will beat it.  So thank you for being here tonight.  Thank you for investing in cancer research so that this won’t happen again.

Two of Lisa favorite things in life were shopping and socializing.  And we have both here tonight.  So I encourage you to get another drink, hit the auction tables and to enjoy tonight in her memory.  And let’s get about the business of eradicating cancer. 

Curly Brush?

Posted by Danny

The last few years of her life, Lisa had her hair done by a guy named Chris.  She said he could work wonders.  I remember her coming home and me saying “How’d he make your hair look like that?”  Looking back on it, I can see how that might have come across as your hair doesn’t usually look that great, although that is not necessarily what I meant.  He could just take an A and make it an A+!

One time she left home with fairly big hair.  When she returned, it was short and straight.  Again I questioned, “Are you wearing a wig?”


“How’d he do that?”

“He put some expensive product in my hair and took a big round brush and blew dry it straight.”

“Can you do that?”

“Not like him.”

“Could I help you?”

“Seriously?  You’re going to do my hair?”

She never took me up on my offer and I actually preferred her hair more flowy, but the change was nice for a while.

Last week Stephanie’s Nana took her to get a haircut.  They decided to go with a shorter look and it is really, really cute.  It’s sort of “stacked” on the back and drapes longer in the front. 

But a strange thing happened one day about a week later.  On this particular day, the top layer of her hair seemed to rebel.  It grew bigger and didn’t seem to be in sync with the bottom layer. 

I’m not really sure what happened, and it didn’t seem to be a consistent phenomena.  My hair and Jesse’s hair seems to be fairly consistent.  It looks the same at 8 am and at 8 pm.  Our hair is similar in winter, spring, summer and fall – rain, sleet or snow.  But the girls’ hair has personality; sort of moody, like a child. 

DJ told me that if she brushed her hair when it was in curly mode she’d look like a lion.  I haven’t seen that but I’d like to. 

As I ran my fingers through Stephanie’s disobedient hair, the thought of Chris and his round hairbrush came to mind. 

“Steph, we’re gonna try something.  Do we have a hair dryer?”

“What are you doing dad?”

“Just trust me.”

“With my hair?”


“DJ!  Do you have that stuff to make your hair calm?”

“I think I’m out.”

“Well look.  We’re trying an experiment on Stephanie’s hair.”

“As long as it’s hers.”

“Found some.”

“Do you have a round brush?”


I collected my tools and we headed to the bathroom.  I scooped out some hair goop.

“That stuff makes my hair stiff,” Stephanie complained.

“It’s magic baby.  Magic!”

It took both hands to get the hair around the brush so I had to hold the dryer under my neck.  It was a little uncomfortable, but we made do.

After just 10 minutes, her hair was dry and every strand was in place.  She went to bed and I held my breath:  what would tomorrow bring?

When she woke, to our amazement, her hair was calm, cool and collected – following all of the rules.   No frizz in sight!  The top layer embracing the bottom layer is if they were identical twins.

Where ever you are Chris, I thank you!  Another tool in our toolbox if needed.

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