SHEAR BEAUTY: Waters prepares for her next appointment.
Barbara Meehan, an MGH patient, sits by her window on Ellison 12 gently pulling on her long black hair that is fastened back in a ponytail. Her eyes soften with kindness and she beams while expressing her gratitude for the wonderful care she received from Melissa Waters, a beautician in The General Hair Care Salon at the MGH.
“It’s not about hair. It’s about humanity,” says Meehan.
Despite meeting just one week ago, Meehan, who is both a mother and a grandmother, describes Waters with pure and simple praise as if she were part of her extended family. “Melissa is a lovely human being – the epitome of someone who wants to give people hope.”
After two weeks in the hospital, Meehan’s hair had become matted and tangled. She thought she would have to cut it off, so her son contacted the MGH salon to make an appointment. Waters arrived in her room a day or so later and began brushing through the knots in Meehan’s hair. “I asked if she could tough it out, knowing she might already be in a lot of pain, but I took my time and she tolerated so much. She was a trooper,” says Waters.
Waters, who grew up in a family of nurses, took what she calls “a leap of faith” when she began at the MGH in September. At first she felt out of her element caring for patients – her former job was at a salon franchise – but she soon found her way. “It’s not something everyone can grasp but this is what I want to do. To hear, ‘I feel normal,’ ‘I feel human.’ It’s a gift,” says Waters.
“What Melissa gave me is as important as medicine,” explains Meehan. “Hair is just hair but it helps people be a little bit of who they are.”
Read more articles from the 01/17/14 Hotline issue.