Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Trip to the Barber Shop

Every other week, I get up early on Saturday, drop by McD's, get a coffee, then head over to Dean's Barber Shop where Dean and his wife, Jean, have been cutting hair for over 30 years. Dean's not there anymore. Diagnosed with cancer over a year ago, Dean had to retire, but Jean keeps the shop open. It's one of those "old fashioned shops"--lots of hunting and fishing magazines laying around and the TV is most always on one of the cable news channels. A buzz cut like mine costs $8; the town news/gossip is free.

I noticed him as soon as I entered the barber shop this past weekend. He was probably my age, but he looked much older. His skin was rough and carved by the deep wrinkles. His eyes were sad, almost empty as he he sat slumped in the chair across from me. He really didn't need a haircut...mainly because he had very little to cut. His mostly bald head had a few wispy patches of hair that did very little to hide the scar that dominated the right side of his head.

I had pretty much figured out his situation, but I listened as he told Jean his story. A truck driver, he had just dropped off his load and was heading home when he was involved in an accident. Although the truck was totalled, he walked away, thankful that no one was injured. He returned home without seeing a doctor. Several days later, he noticed he was having trouble focusing; standing and walking had also become difficult. "You should have gone to the hospital (after the accident)," his wife told him. Unable to drive, she took him to the nearest emergency room.

They took x-rays and did a catscan among other tests. "We've found a large tumor," the doctor told him, "and there's an ambulance waiting for you outside." He was rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery to remove the brain tumor. Sadly, once they began, they discovered the tumor was more involved than they first thought. Doctors were able to only remove 80 percent of the growth. "We've bought you some time," they told him...and sent him home.He sat in the barber shop and said,"This will be my last Christmas with my grandkids."

I know that we're all going to die some day, but this man has basically been given THE date. He said it so matter-of-factly; didn't flinch or bat an eye. Barring a miracle, his words will come true, maybe sooner than he thinks. I sat there and thought: "How would I live if I had been given that type of deadline? What would I do different? What would I continue to do the same."

I get pretty aggravated with things, especially this time of year--the materialism, the busyness, the pushing and shoving just to get the latest toy or electronic device, etc., After my vist to the barber shop...I figure my life--no matter what I may have to put up with--really ain't that bad.

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