"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Barber Pole

I sat in the front seat of my car with the engine running. I was deep in my thoughts. Mama sat in the back. I stared straight ahead, watching the red, white and blue spiral up and down.                     

"I wonder why they ever thought of making a barber pole like that?" she commented.  

My first inclination was to respond, "It was most likely the Brits." But I really didn't know and I don't know why that idea came to my mind either. I only responded, "I don't know," and I went back to my reflections. It has always been hard for me to communicate when I am not feeling well, or I am tired. And I have been tired for awhile, now. I didn't want to talk.

Poor Mama. She had wanted to come along, but I didn't really want her to. I didn't have much time, and my leg was sore enough, I thought perhaps I had made a mistake in coming. I knew I didn't have the strength to walk with her, and help her in and out of the car.  But I couldn't tell her that. So she came and I helped in spite of the pain. Been doing that awhile now, too.

We were waiting for dad outside the barber while he got his hair cut. He hadn't had luck getting it done at their new retirement community.  And when I had come that afternoon to take care of a few things for them, it was the first thing he had told me. "They won't cut my hair!"

I didn't know why. I assumed maybe it was the wrong day, or hour. Maybe he had trouble finding the salon. I didn't know and I didn't ask. I just responded: "I will take you up to the barber where I used to take Mr. B. when we were neighbors."

That delighted Dad. Mama wanted to come along for the ride. So we were off on another errand that I was secretly hoping wouldn't turn into an ordeal that would take longer than necessary. I had hoped to find out if I could do this after my recent surgery, but I soon found out I wasn't ready.

As I sat there with my mom, I really wasn't able to talk. I was reflecting. I was remembering all the times I would bring my elderly neighbor up to this same shop, when he could no longer drive. My memories are all fond of this wonderful old man and his wife, but my reflections today were not. There had been more than one time, that I had revisited this same memory. Mr. B. standing on his front porch, as I had tried to explain.
"Mr. B. I just can't drop everything and run you when you want to go. I am trying to home school Matthew and it interrupts our day."

"But I HAVE to get my hair cut," was his forlorn response. And I knew then and there, my efforts to explain were all in vain. I was saddened, I was frustrated. I was defeated. So, I simply took him to the barber.  I never, ever forgot his need in that moment. I can still see him standing there, trying to reason with me.

To this day, I hope he didn't sense my frustration, or anger, or whatever it was that might have been bubbling underneath. I have reviewed it many times over the 15 years or whatever it has been. Over and over, I have given myself an "F" and vowed to never let anything like that happen again.

So here I was now - right outside the same barber shop with the same lousy attitude. All those memories couldn't help but flood my tired mind and body. It was only day 7, after all, of a major surgery I had just had. Part of me was telling myself, "I shouldn't have to do this yet!"

"You have just been ran over by a truck!" The doctor had told me. "Quit expecting so much! This is only day 2!"

Yeah, I get that! I feel that! That part is easy to understand. What isn't easy is to say no, when an elderly has a need. It is different than when you or I have a need. I am not going to explain that. It is simply different. "I will never, ever forget his need in that moment!"

And so here we are. Same barber, same need, same grade. "F" for not being more gracious with my mama. She only wanted to go for a ride.

I saw Dad come out of the shop with a smile on his face. "How did it go?" I asked trying to include some cheer in my tone.


"Did you like him?"

"Yes, he did a good job and I am glad to know this is here."

"Yes, little by little you are learning where things are. And what is nice is the barber, the bank, and the store are all on the same street that you live on! That will make it easy."

"Oh, boy! Thank you so much, Jan."
Daddy was happy and his hair looked good. Mama was still sighing in the backseat, probably sorry she came. Ok. I will give myself a "C" for Daddy. I still need to get that attitude in check.

Thank you, Mr. B. for showing me the importance of a barber and where to find one. I really wish I could do it all again for you, you know. Still looking for that "A". Not so much because I need it, but because you do; and all of those like you.

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