Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • My dad came to visit me "in the big city" a few days ago.

    A country boy through and through, he was raised on a farm in Kentucky and even as a child worked before the sun rose and after the sun set. He has spent the last 40+ years as a barber in what was my grandfather's barber shop. A vocation he had to accept as a youth, promised to continue as my grandmother's dying wish, and (when my grandfather finally passed away) had no other choice but to accept in his old age. Now, the barber shop must be sold to accomodate the wishes of my grandfather's estate- splitting everything up in six ways for all of his children. In their greed, they will not allow him to work there after the sale is finalized unless they can run the business...even though he is the only one who gave up his life to work there. But still he stays day after day and most likely will stay until the doors forever close on Buster's Barber Shop.

    He could have been architect, an engineer, a plumber, an many trades that he excels at on his own time. But he has remained a small town barber who knows all his loyal customers by name, can tell two dozen jokes on the spot, opens up the shop in rain, sleet, or snow even if just to watch the cars pass by, and who worries about how he will be able to support his family with no retirement plan or insurance when he is unable to cut hair anymore.

    I often go weeks without speaking to him, usually sharing my news every few days with my stay-at-home mother. It isn't because I forget about him or love him less. It is just our way. We can say much with much less.

    During dinner in the visit, our conversation ebbed and flowed but not awkwardly. Eventually it came around to a topic we hit quite often- how I let others treat me. Which often is poorly. He simply says, "Hannah, you just can't let people treat you that way." And equally as often as I hear it, I brush it off thinking it is a nagging parental line as natural as breathing to them.

    But this time I truly thought about those words and the man who said them. Perhaps you are thinking, "How could a man who let others control his life for over 60 years tell anyone how they should be treated?" Maybe you are right- to some extent. He gave up any life that he could have made for himself, let every member of his family rule his fate, and never believed that he could further himself or another career. And yet, there is something to be said about such love and loyalty. What he really means is there are times when sacrficing yourself to something greater is the best gift you could offer or receive. And there other times when the sacrifice allows nothing but resentment and pain to grow.

    His words are not to nag me. They are to help me grow and know the difference between love and neglect.

    His life is not meaningless. His life is inspiration to give everything you have to ones you love. And never regret what could have been.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.