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!”).
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.”
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.
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.