Thursday, September 22, 2011

Making a Memory

There are moments in life when you know you're experiencing something special.  When you make a special place in your heart and mind for that memory because you know how important it is.

I had a moment.  And it filled me with such a feeling of peace that I'm bursting at the seams to share it.

Yesterday in my post I mentioned that we were going to take dad on an outing.  I was worried about him, hopeful that it would go smoothly and comfortably.  He was so determined to go that we wouldn't have thought to deny his request, but we were concerned.  We had done the family dinner outing, and that went surprisingly well, but it really took a lot out of him.  But he was right about that one--we had to trust he was right about this.

Dad stopped treatment this past spring, after over two years of chemo therapy.  He had of course lost all of his hair.  My dad had the thickest head of hair, not a hint of any receding hairline, and he also had a well kept moustache in his healthy days.  Losing his hair was extremely traumatic for him.  It's such a cruel side effect of chemo.  As if cancer patients really need anything else to advertise their condition or make them feel less normal.  Since stopping treatment, he has finally been growing some hair back, and had some pretty ragged looking whiskers.  I think his new hair was making him feel just a bit more normal, but the dark irony of it is so unfair.

So he had decided he wanted a shave.  There is a place at the Mall of America called "The Art of Shaving" that they had discovered this past winter.  It's a very classy little place, with beautiful shaving equipment and wonderful-smelling shave products for men.  They have two small sections with barber chairs where you can get an old-fashioned, professional shave.  They had given MOH a gift card for the place at Christmas, and my dad was very impressed with the place.  His moustache had been very important to him when he had it.  So he had decided that's were he wanted to go for a shave.  The nurse who helps him with bathing was scheduled to come yesterday, and he had decided he wanted to go after he was all cleaned up.

MOH had called and made the appointment for 12:30.  Sister, mom and I loaded him and his wheelchair into the car.  He was so very frail.  He seems like he doesn't have any weight left to lose.  He has no voice left.  He has no strength left.  It is so heartbreaking to see him like that.  In his healthy life he was incredibly strong and active, always in great shape.  We took a deep breath and drove to the mall.

Mom knows the mall.   She knew just where to park so the Art of Shaving place was right inside the door near where we parked.  Hubby met us there, which was so sweet.  As we wheeled him in I saw people check him out.  He looks sort of shocking, so he draws stares.  I instantly felt worried and defensive.

But when we wheeled him into the Art of Shaving place, they treated him like he was just a regular client.  The ladies checked him in and told him they'd go get the gentleman who would be giving him the shave.

And then the guy came in.  I am kicking myself this morning for not remembering his name, but the moment was feeling so surreal to me.  He was the coolest looking guy.  He had an amazing handlebar moustache, a poufe of dark hair on his head, a beautiful plaid sportcoat and a bow tie.  He smiled at my dad with the kindest smile, and asked him to come on back.  We brought him back to the chair, and had to help him into it, kind of hiking him up into it.  The guy leaned him back, and just started his job.  My dad looked so comfortable.

And for the entire shave, he was smiling.  He rarely smiles these days.

The shave took a nice, long time.  We kept stepping in and out, wanting to give him privacy but wanting to check up on things.  We could watch from the window in the corridor.  He was being shaved with a straight edge razor, and the guy was being so gentle and thorough.  He used a hot towel on my dad's face to begin with, and it looked so relaxing.  My dad looked like he felt normal.  It was an amazing thing.  He had the full treatment, with a wonderfully scented cool towel on his face to finish the job.

The entire time he was in the chair, it really looked like he was able to forget about his situation.  I could feel how comfortable he felt, how he tasted normal again, and it tasted good.  I was moved to tears, standing there in the shop, and I honestly could not thank the guy enough for the moment.

We took our tidied up, fresh-smelling dad back home, and he rested the remainder of the day, hopefully satisfied.  I certainly was.  I will remember the day forever, and I'm so very happy we did it.


  1. Awwwww! :) You are making me teary eyed!

  2. Being out of town is tough during these times. But you keep me up to date and thanks to your writing skills I now have a fantastic memory as well. Thanks for marking the moment!

  3. You're posts give me a lump in the back of my throat. Thinking of you Teri. You truly have a special gift of writing and touching lives.

    Jen D.