Dad's last haircut

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Every week I cut my husband’s hair. I have done this for over 50 years. Each time while I’m cutting, another vision comes to my mind. One that I will never forget and honestly never want to.

Let me start at the beginning. I got my Michigan cosmetology license when I was 16 and worked in 3 different beauty shops. My dad was very willing to let me cut his hair.

Dad was very particular about his hair. He enjoyed many different looks as far as his hair was concerned. The one constant that he always insisted on was that his hair be neatly trimmed over his ears. Never a shaggy hair hung over his ear.

Dad was very much into fashion and absolute good grooming. He loved fancy suits and shoes and believed that no outfit would be complete without a fresh shave and trim. The fresh trim over his ears meant a lot to him. In his mind, a proper man would never allow anything but.

When we moved to California, I went back to school and got my cosmetology license. I got married and the tradition of cutting hair continued. My husband, Dale, and my dad were very good buddies. Every Saturday morning, we would go to my mom and dad’s house early. I’d trim their hair, then the two of them would run around Santa Monica doing errands. They would go and get shoe shines, go to car dealers and look at cars, go to the marina and look at boats, and go to the butcher’s and pick up a fresh supply of meat for the week. Usually they’d stop for a hot dog on their way back home. It was a Saturday morning routine that they shared for many years, each starting with a haircut.

Dad’s facial hair and the hair on his head went through many changes. He embraced keeping up with new looks. He was a professional man so his only restriction was that it was neat and clean.

So today as I cut my husband’s hair, I am remembering Dad’s last haircut. I remember knowing how important it was, both to him and to me.

It was 1993. Mom and Dad had moved to Palm Springs after they retired. Dad had another heart attack and they were sitting in the back seat as a neighbor drove them to the hospital. Dad died, stuck in traffic on the freeway.

All of us kids raced to the hospital to be with mom. Of course, we went through all of the typical absolute grief. We decided that each of us kids would go into the room where dad was alone and say our final goodbyes. As I stood there talking with dad it just struck me to the core how disheveled he looked. I took my comb and scissor from my purse and trimmed over his ears.

Dad was a beautiful man.

Gail Earl is a member of the writing class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. It is held off-campus at the Norwalk Senior Center.

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