My Haircut

This is the third and final posting connected to my reflections of the passing of my father.  Portions of this were written in September 2008…

I never knew my grandfathers.  Both men passed away while my parents were children, so the knowledge I have of them has come from stories – mostly from my mom and dad.  As a child, I always remembered the story dad used to tell of the last time he saw his father.  Dad was in the hospital visiting his father, who made a comment to my dad and his brothers that when he got home he’d have to give the boys a haircut.  I don’t know why that story stuck with me, but I always thought that it was an interesting thing to say.  It seems odd to make such a practical comment in a moment that had far deeper meaning in their lives.  I don’t know if my grandfather was saying it to make them feel better, or if he said it in order to stay optimistic.  In either event, it came to be a lasting link I’ve had to the previous generation – an anecdote to pass down in time.   Since hearing the news about my own father, I began to wonder what my “hair cut” statement would be – the last words I’d hear my father speak to me.

The next few days were difficult.  It was a holiday, but nobody felt festive.  Dad was noticeably weakening as his body began to shut down.  On Thursday, I was tasked with lifting him up so that his undergarment could be changed.  I held him steady yet gently, not wanting to hurt him, but my efforts were futile.  One of the muscles running down his leg cramped.  The look of excruciating pain streamed across his face.  In frustration, he looked into my eyes, cursed, and exclaimed, “you people need to pay attention to what you’re doing here.”  I set him down and stepped back.  The look on his face was the polar opposite of what I had seen the night before with Wesley.  I didn’t know what to say, didn’t want to make things worse, so I said nothing.  I went into another room and sat alone with my thoughts for a while.  I knew I didn’t intentionally hurt him, but I knew that I had.  I knew his words were out of frustration and pain, and were not intended to cut me down, but my mind replayed the scene over and over again – I couldn’t get that thought out of my head.  I promised myself that I would speak to him about it, offer my apology and get my promised “hair cut.” 

We spent the next few days with family members and friends who came to the house to say goodbye.  I held to the idea that I would speak to him and make things right, to take away from this painful experience a legacy moment that I would cling to for years to come.  I waited for a moment of privacy, I waited for a moment when he was coherent. I waited.

 I waited…

And now we arrive at Sunday morning.  November 25, 2007.  It was just before 7:00 a.m. when the peace of the morning was shattered by the sound of my mother’s shriek.  I sprung from my bed and went into the adjoining room to find my mother and sister sitting next to my father’s lifeless frame.  With two fingers pressed against his neck, I confirmed what I had already known.  I looked to his eyes, searching for one last look of love, pride, or joy.  But there was none – he was gone.  His eyes were closed, his body was still – he was gone.  I lifted my fingers from his neck and began to attend to the many tasks that needed to be done that morning; phone calls to make, people to notify, events to plan.  My fingers kept rolling, as did many other things that were happening in my life.  I pressed on, knowing full well that I’d no choice but to move forward without the hair cut I had so badly desired.

Life since then has had its share of ups and downs.  It wasn’t common knowledge at the time, but a number of decisions had been made that would signal a new direction for my life.  My struggling marriage was ending.  My career was changing as I had been led to leave the school where I had been a teacher and principal, but with no idea what I’d be doing for work at the end of the year.  The comfort and joy that I had found in writing had disappeared, and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything for months.  The foundations upon which I had built my life were being tested and most of the one’s I’d built were failing.

I am thankful that God had other plans for me.  Amidst the many changes, problems, mistakes and struggles, God has remained by my side – offering guidance, comfort, rebuke, direction, and love.  Consider the words of Isaiah 43:18-21…

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”

Through Him, impossible things have happened.  Through Him, the amazing has become the expectation.  Time and time again, God has made a way when times looked bleak.  His path has been made known, His way laid before me. I have prayerfully sought His will, listened to His word, and given my life over to Him.  I still face struggles, I do so with the strength of my Heavenly Father to see me though and to teach me the lessons I need to learn to grow my faith for the next level.

As for my hair cut moment, I found it earlier this year.  Minister Lashun Franklin has been invaluable to me over the past two years.  Her counseling has helped me through difficult days and has served as a tremendous conduit to the voice of God speaking into my life.  Earlier this year, she shared with me a word that God had spoken to her about me…

“You are different than your family and the men in your family.  Cut from a supernatural cloth.  Your father is more pleased with you now than he was with you while he was here.  God has allowed him to see and find comfort in watching you and realizing that what he was promised/shown has come to pass.”

Thank you Father, and thank you dad.  I love you both, and I will to spend the rest of my life serving you well. 

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About day1of1

Author, Speaker, Educator, Husband, Father of two and follower of the One.
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