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  • I took my Dad for a haircut.

    He had known Fred the Barber for almost fourty years. Dad was very particular about his hair and Fred knew how to work with his thick mop with plenty of cowlicks. They even tried to invent things together like a magnetic engine and a vacuum cleaner that could cut hair. Fred was so patient as he gently combed my Dad's gray mane, trying not to irritate his scalp, which was singed from the radiation treatments. He listened as Dad repeated his ideas of engineering a donut with a BBQ pork center. Dad would go over the details again and again, occasionally getting stuck on the words. That was the tumor talking. Fred looked at me and said, "He was here six weeks ago and he seemed fine." He then went back to gently combing, as if somehow he could comb away the sickness.

    The haircut lasted a long time. And when it was over, I helped Dad out to the car. He had trouble walking that day, and every day after that. I chatted with Fred about returning in a few weeks for another cut. I was being optimistic. Or blind. But Fred the Barber knew.

    As we got to the car, Fred gave my father a hug that lasted almost as long as their friendship. And then I witnessed a most personal and touching moment between these two older, Southern, non-emotional men. Fred whispered, "I love you, Don." My Dad answered, "I love you, Freddie." Then he quietly walked back inside.

    Fred the Barber knew.
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