The Barber

I dropped off my daughter at preschool school this morning and darted over to pick up my dad to take him to the barber. His slow-dance with Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point that when he now leaves the familiar surroundings of “The Inn,” (his term for the nursing home where he hangs his hat) he is filled with a bit of apprehension and anxiety. No big deal – you just adjust. Today, this adjustment took the form of giving him lots …of encouragement and coaching as we walked arm and arm into the barber shop. “You’re doing great, Dad,” I said. “Just a few more steps.” Once inside, I saw that there were a few men of varying ages ahead of us, waiting for their turn. Their heads were bent down, enthralled with their iPads and phones. I helped my dad find his chair and folded his walker and stored it against the wall. Then, as is so typical with my dad, he soon took stock of the people sitting in the room. I saw his anxiety lift and he perked right up, anxious to make their acquaintance. That familiar spark found his eye as he began to informally chat with one, then two of them, pulling them out of their private electronic cocoons. Out came his humorous quips and one-liners – things that Alzheimer’s has yet to steal. I watched as slow smiles crept upon the men’s lips. Before I knew it, he had these three men talking and laughing. After a little while, my dad leaned over to me and whispered, “Honey, can you tell me again, how old I am?” I whispered back, “Almost 88, Dad.” I saw him think about it for a minute and then he said to his new friends, “And I don’t like to brag, but I’m almost 88 and the pretty girls STILL whistle!” I looked at their laughing faces. Then I looked over at my dad and felt his pride at being able to still earn the admiration of strangers. But then again, they weren’t really strangers anymore.

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