Monday, July 4, 2011

“Just” a haircut?

Getting a haircut is not a huge deal for most people. I personally love to get my hair done because it’s an excuse to sit back and relax and have my scalp rubbed while amusing the stylist with the result of my feeble attempts to cut my bangs (“Trish, please come in for a quick bang trim between cuts! You don’t have to live with crooked bangs!”).

Before. . .
If Robert doesn’t keep his curly locks cut, he tends to start looking like Einstein with his unruly head of hair. Add “helmet head” to it and he needs a sprucing up every now and then. I decided to add a mustache trim to this trip since the last time his mustache was trimmed I did it (see above re my ability to cut in a straight line).

The appointment was at the local JC Penney because Robert is treated well and there is easy access in and out. Parking is available in the shade (a must when it reaches 100 degrees as it did yesterday), the elevator is not too far from the entrance and the salon is just off the elevator. Add to that the availability of restrooms across from the salon and we have everything covered.

Robert had an appointment with a new stylist which puts my protective shield up a bit since I don’t know if she’ll be uncomfortable with a disabled person and I tend to prepare for the worst. She started off making us wait 15 minutes (tick tock, people, we have a specific window between med times and thought three hours was more than enough for a 45 minute hair cut). She apologized profusely so I decided against holding a grudge, writing a letter to her supervisor and getting her fired. I suppose I can just be here for Robert’s haircut and not try to change the way Penney’s does business.

While Robert settled into the shampoo chair, the stylist asked me, “What happened to Robert?” Great question and I appreciate when people ask instead of staring in awkward silence. After answering, “He has epilepsy” and feeling the ears perk up of the other stylists and customers, I thought this was a great opportunity to talk about epilepsy and maybe teach a thing or two in the process.

While I sat congratulating myself for wanting to seize this educational opportunity Robert beat me to it.

Robert told his story of how he has had epilepsy all of this life but that it was diagnosed when he was seven. “At the age five, I started seeing things in the colors of red, blue and green.” He went on to describe his brain surgery on January 4, 1990 and how the doctor kept him awake during the surgery and showed him flashcards and asked questions during the surgery.

I’ve heard the story several times but was happy he had a new audience (the stylist who showed genuine interest and the others who pretended they weren’t listening). As I sat half-paying attention to the conversation happening across the aisle from me, (ever on alert in case he has a seizure) while checking messages on my smart phone (otherwise known as my addiction), I heard Robert say, “. . . and then the Lord spoke to me when I was 15 and told me it wasn’t my time and I was here for a reason.”

That’s new.

I set my phone down and listened to him tell Salita the Stylist about falling into a swimming pool while at our dad’s apartment and being in a coma for three days. She looked to me for verification and I confirmed the story was true. The details are fuzzy, even to me, but Robert most likely had a seizure and fell into the pool. Our dad pulled him out and Robert was in a coma and actually near death for a while. When I got the call, it was the first (and only) time in my life I was hysterical. Even though he and I weren’t close, I couldn’t imagine losing my youngest brother at such a young age.

I always wondered when Robert became so religious and couldn’t figure out where it came from. I guess if God speaks to you and saves your life, you listen.

Salita shared with Robert that she too was religious. She finished Robert’s haircut, trimmed his mustache and even trimmed his rogue eyebrow hairs. By the time the appointment was over, he was looking pretty spiffy and feeling happy to have made a new friend.

Looking Spiffy!
  On our way out, we made a quick stop in the jewelry department to resize his watch (since he’s lost a little weight) and then made our way out into the heat toward the shady car. Once I got him in the car, loaded his walker into the trunk and got in to drive him home, I noticed the familiar sight: head bent forward, slightly to the right, motionless except his right hand twitching and turning. I strapped his seat belt around him and waited a minute until he popped his head up, looking around to see where he was and greeting me with his usual “hello!”

Hello, Robert. I hope you enjoyed your haircut.


Heidi Alberti & Atticus Uncensored said...

Trish, this post left me teary-eyed... but in a good way! and on many levels.

First, it is so refreshing that the stylist was open in asking questions (instead of that dreaded silence) --- the sign of an open heart, I think. and it's so great that Robert jumped right in to answer.

His answer about "the lord spoke to me" is exceedingly profound. (obviously you thought so too since you put down your tech device!)

Great post. Great haircut. and great that you didn't get the stylist fired!! lol :)

Heidi & Atticus
"commentary to give you paws..."

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Thanks, Heidi. Yes, anything that gets me to put my smart phone down has to be pretty awesome. :-) I appreciate you reading & passing along through Twitter!

Fiona Stolze said...

Yes, Trish, I found this really moving too. I loved the way Robert and the hairstylist connected in an authentic way. And I must admit, I was really paying attention when Robert was talking about being here for a purpose.

I think it's great when we get surprised by those we know. It just shows how much more depth there is to them. Robert really is amazing. As you are too. x

Fiona Stolze
Inspired Art and Living

bccmee said...

Wow great story. Fascinating that Robert shared something new within an old tale. The haircut looks great too. A successful outing!

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

The way the brain works fascinates me too, bccmee. It's amazing he can remember things from his teen years but not be able to tell me what he had for breakfast!

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Fiona, It was great being surprised by him. It makes me wonder why he chose to mention this to the stylist but it really did mean a lot to her. It just made me realize even more that everyone wants to make a difference and realize their purpose.

Taylor Rachelle said...

It is so great to learn about your brother and hear your perspective. I think it's important to hear other people's experiences! It gives a better perspective on life. I'm glad the hairstylist was so wonderful!

Franziska San Pedro said...

Oh wow, I am.. now what am I? Is touched the right word? I loved Heid's comment, she described it best. You have such an entertaining and light writing style, you are funny and humorous but by the same time you manage to bring in all that depth. I am amazed and in awe!

Thank you for your post, there's nothing to add from my side because I would just ruin this emotional moment. You are amazing,

Franziska San Pedro
The Abstract Impressionist Artress

Laine D said...


Your ability to move from commentary to humor, pathos to education all while maintaining focus on Robert 'the man' is astonishing.

To read your blog is to come on a ride along for the day, the trepidation, roadblocks, discovery, humor and overwhelming love but is also a journey of learning for your readers.

Like everyone else I was touched by Roberts pronouncement about his conversation with God and his abiding faith. I think his role and yours is to communicate the ability in disability , educating and informing people of the pains and joy of caregiving and being an advocate for loved ones.

Thank you for a beautiful and inspiring article.
Aspire to Inspire
Laine D.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Laine, Thank you for your insight. It's taken me a long time to realize this but you and others are helping me see that my purpose and Robert's must be intertwined. I am helping Robert realize his purpose. Hope so, anyway.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Taylor, Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. It is helpful and enlightening to see the world from other's perspectives. That was a great point. Thanks!

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Franziska, It makes me so happy to know others are touched by our story. Thank you so much for your comments.