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Senior Correspondent

An old, gray-haired lady was not what I ever thought I would be — and a grandmother to boot. But I have achieved both titles in the last decade of my 68 years of life.

The grandmother title is one I adore, but the other is sometimes shocking, especially when I pass a three-way mirror or see my reflection in a window.

After using gallons of hair coloring in varying shades for a couple of decades, I finally gave it up and went natural. I had always thought I would stop when I reached my 70s but gave in two years ago after a scalp problem.

It's not easy after an addiction to the many colors on boxes of dye products beckoning me from the shelves of local stores. The models are portrayed with gorgeous, shiny locks, harking back to my younger days. The application didn't always turn out the way the model looked, but there was always hope.

Then there were trips to the beauty salons with dreams of looking like the models in the books, magazines and posters on display.

The color selections now are a far cry from the hair dyes of the 1950s  and '60s when I was growing up. Shoe polish black seemed to be the color of choice. My mother and grandmother were purists, and hair dye did not touch their curly locks. Other relatives never allowed one gray hair to see the light of day.

One aspect of hair color that I have always found hard to believe is that there are people in the world who actually don't have to use dye because their gray hair hardly shows   I hate those people!

But alas, there comes a time when enough is enough, when making a mess in various parts of the house with the box solutions or spending hours and money for professional help was over. No matter how you slice it, dyed hair will not mask all the other age-defining properties of the body, so it was time to give in.

I soon learned it wasn't easy going from color to a total absence of it, as the gray hair is caused by a loss of pigment. I had no idea what my hair would look like or how much gray I had. I was hoping for a nice white.

There was no quick way to resolve the issue. I got blonde highlights at first to ease the transition, but no matter what you do, it has to grow out. I would often stop women who had great gray hair and ask advice. They always said it took time and don't give up. I had two-tone hair for many months — not very attractive. I didn't realize how extreme it was until I saw photos. It was often a little startling, but I never gave in.

About 10 months later, I was there  gray with a little white and brown mixed in. Shampoos and conditioners are a big help that promise brightening of the gray, which is not as bright as I would like but a little better.

Comments from others have been surprising. Some absolutely hate it and are very vocal, while others treat you as a member of a special society  that of the gray hairs — with smiles and polite comments. I find the medium length keeps it from putting me in the realm of the blue hairs or the hippies who never got a trim.  

But I warn you, don't do it until you are ready. Gray is not the new brown, black, red or blonde, but it is certainly natural. I can't say I love it, but I don't hate it either. Perhaps I am viewed as a stately, sophisticated senior citizen, or on the other hand a cranky, opinionated, old gray-haired broad.

One revelation that jumps out at me when I look at recent photos is my husband and I now match!

So, gray hairs be proud. We are truly going natural, and nothing could be more environmentally friendly.

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