For most of the boys in my neighborhood, it was not a fun time. In fact, most avoided it as long as they could. Hanging out with friends, running errands for Mother, and sleepovers at Grandmother’s house, were just some of the ways to avoid a subpoena. Almost as bad as going to the County Health Department for immunization shots, it was an anathema.
About once a month, I would hear, “Danny, go get in the chair, so I can cut your hair.” Usually, without hesitation, I would climb into that chair, get draped in a homemade barber’s cloak, and the buzz of clippers and snipping of scissors would ensue.
My Father had no formal training as a barber. But he was one of those people who believed if he received good, instructions, was shown enough times, and given the proper tools he could do it, whatever it was. He and a friend bought barber tools years before, and practiced on each other. By the time he was father to 2 boys, he was ready.
It was also part of his fiscal conservative nature. Going to the barber shop was a recurring expense. Learning the trade and buying the tools was an investment, with immeasurable savings.
Father was meticulous. He made precision cuts and trims. He took his time. My Mother says I have always looked more like him than I would ever admit. I trusted him to fix his twin just right.
It was the time spent together that was priceless. We had time to talk about baseball, football, school, church, or whatever subject came to mind.
In my formative years, my Father was my best friend. We went almost everywhere together. When he put on his shoes, I put on mine. When he grabbed his coat, that was my cue to get mine. Many nights he put me to bed, when I fell asleep on the couch, or in the chair, trying to stay up with him.
My Father passed away at age 59. I never told him how much I valued that time, and how I wished he had kept those Sunday afternoons for the two of us.
The decision to end them was mutual. I thought it was a teenager’s prerogative to choose his own barber. He allowed me the freedom to decide. Hindsight, indeed, is 20/20.
Too many times, parents, especially Fathers, rush through time spent with their children, hastening to the next task, the next meeting, the next luncheon, not realizing that once time passes into eternity, it cannot be redeemed. Spending time with the family will be some of the best time any of us will ever invest.
My son, now a high school senior, still gets a haircut from his unlicensed, barber-father. I may no longer be the friend he prefers hanging out with, but I am hanging on as long as I can. I only get one chance. The truth is we both benefit.
Danny R. Chandler is a long time Patty Peck Honda Friend and Customer. He is also an EMT with American Medical Response and Founder of Mississippi Friends of Oakwood Committed to University Support (Mississippi FOCUS) and the Chandler Foundation Scholarship programs.