As Brian Creasy waited in the hallway of Tualatin's Sola Salon Saturday morning, his teenage daughter, Ava, pulled his shoulder-length gray hair into two French-braided pigtails, just for fun.
His younger daughter, Tess, was already in the salon chair. After growing her hair out for the better part of a year, she had anxiously watched her hair stylist lob off more than six inches — and Brian and Ava were next.
The plan started on a whim last August, with something Ava said during dinner with her dad.
"I just wanted to grow my hair out and then do something good with it to chop it off," the Lakeridge High junior recalls. Brian, a manager at Portland General Electric, agreed to join her, and soon Tess was in on the scheme, too.
The Lake Oswego family set out to find an organization that could use all kinds of hair — including gray — in wigs, and eventually they learned about Dreadlocks of Love. The organization uses dreadlocks and regular hair to create dreadlock wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair through chemotherapy treatments. (Learn more at www.dreadlocksoflove.org.)
Since making the decision last summer, each family member has struggled with frustration at different stages of the grow-out process as their thick hair extended past what they're used to. Throughout the year, the project largely became about keeping their commitment to one another.
It wasn't easy — particularly for Brian, who says he typically comes off as a "pretty serious guy" at work.
"People certainly gave me crap and said, 'You're looking shaggy,'" he says. "But as soon as they knew the story, they thought it was cool."
He says the project gave him something to talk about with Ava and Tess as the three of them commiserated throughout the year and looked forward to the big cut.
"Let's be fair — it can be hard for a dad to stay connected to his daughters," he says. "What better way for a dad to stay connected to his teenage girls than to do something like this?"
By Saturday afternoon, all three family members had cut at least six inches off their hair and were enjoying their new looks.
Janet Creasy — Brian's wife and the girls' mom — was the only member of the family who didn't participate in the project, though she supported her family members as they counted down to the haircut.
Of course, Brian still has ideas about how to get her involved, he joked on Saturday.
"I'm going to sneak up on Janet one night," he says, "and cut her hair off in her sleep."