Ed the Barber…
Lately, I haven’t been sleeping very well. In fact, I am up several times a night having trouble breathing, even though I am taking loads of allergy medicine. This time of year is usually very difficult for me – until the first real frost. In fact, I take double the normal dose of meds and I still feel stuffed up. The doctors have indicated that the doses I take are fine for the conditions I have but not something that I would suggest anybody do without checking first with their healthcare provider.
Nonetheless, sometimes, maybe because of the drugs I take, I find myself dreaming about things of long ago – in vivid detail. Things that happened when I was a young boy. Sometimes, a current conversation may be the impetus for the dreams, as when Andrew, our son, asked me several days ago if I remembered the Kennedy assassination. I was ten at the time and remember both the time and place that I was when news came that President Kennedy had been killed – presumably by Lee Harvey Oswald.
And I have made a point of telling our grandchildren stories at every family dinner about the way things were when I was young. Our Sunday dinners at my maternal grandmother’s home, working with grandpa in the basement fixing something or learning how to use a certain tool. In fact, earlier today I showed Andrew a tool that grandpa taught me about when I was a little guy. I don’t think I had ever shown it to Andrew before. I even keep a jar of Goop, the same hand soap we used in the workshop when I was a boy, on the sink in my workshop at our current home.
But last night, in my dream, I was reliving the first time Mom took me to a barber shop. I thought I had really arrived. Ed was a guy who Dad went to for his haircuts and I remember the day that Mom took me to meet Ed. In those days, there were typical barber chairs and men waited and talked until their turn came. Conversation was alive and well along with a pot of coffee in the corner and comic books on the various tables around the shop. I recall how Ed had to use the booster in the chair so I could get up high enough for him to comfortably work on me.
To be sure, I don’t recall why Dad didn’t take me for my first cut. I assume that he was busy or maybe even embarrassed, but frankly, I was a little embarrassed that Mom was the only woman in the shop – with a little kid and a roomful of men patiently waiting their turns. As Doug got older, he went with me and we even endured several moves that Ed made when he changed the location of his shop. Eventually, although he was in East Beverly, he moved out to Evergreen Park and I once went there when Janet and I still lived in the western suburbs of Chicago before we moved here to central Indiana.
I don’t know what prompted my thoughts about Ed. But soon after, I thought about Pete, the barber who worked with Ed for decades, and even Mrs. Barkley, the older woman who owned a very small bookstore where Mom got my German/English dictionary that I needed when I studied my first foreign language in 6th grade with Miss Urland at Sutherland Elementary School. Grandma bought books for Mom from Mrs. Barkley when Mom started elementary school!
Sometimes, I find myself going back to these old times when life seemed so much easier than it was during my major working years. I guess that I felt some stress at the time, getting good grades and all, but when I look back on it, it was a relatively low stress time of life in the scheme of things. I think about that because I notice that I am becoming more stress free the closer I get to retirement. But those intervening years were tough most of the time and I never really learned how to relax when I was in my most intense career years. In a way, I am kind of glad that those are coming to an end and I can once again enjoy the things that I missed for so many years. Almost like a return to a simpler time.
The verse for this evening is from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. Right after the famous love chapter (Chapter 12), Paul goes into a deeper explanation of his life and his ultimate intention of meeting Jesus – knowing Him fully. Paul tells us, in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
That’s how I felt today as I was thinking about all the carefree things that I did when I was young and how Mom made all the decisions with Dad. Somewhere along the line I took on the mantle of more responsibility. Life got more serious and things weren’t as lighthearted. My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to grow up to be responsible people – His people – and to increase our faith along the way; keeping step with our maturity and development as adults. My prayer is that you will continue to remember the past, the Ed’s in your life – those folks who touched your life in some seemingly insignificant way that, nevertheless, cause you to dream about them more than half a century later. Additionally, that we will all continue to grow closer to Him and lead the younger generations to the gift of eternal life – where we won’t have any stress at all! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…