I sat on the couch observing his confusion. He was old. He didn’t know who he was. He didn’t recognize the scissors used to trim his hair. He didn’t recognize my cousin Alan who was his grandson. Alan stayed with him seven days a week 24 hours a day. He still asked for his name and who he was. He would look around the room seeking answers from his own children which he wasn’t familiar with. I’d give anything in this world, and I mean anything to go to my aunt’s house to play guitar and just get away. When I play guitar it’s like I’m in a totally different galaxy. Like nothing, absolutely nothing else exists but the instrument that sits on my lap and the music it produces. Every little problem in my mind is forgotten, not even thought of. I’ve always been someone to avoid all problems. My heart isn’t ice cold. I couldn’t bear witness what was going on. I couldn’t get up and walk home, I was in Mexico. I was hundreds of miles from home. So I had no choice but to sit and watch mi abuelito get his hair trimmed. Not only the hair on his head, but his eyebrows and mustache too. All the men in my family have long eyebrows. Even dad gets them trimmed from time to time.
Mi abuelito was always a tough person to his kids. He wanted them to be responsible. When my dad was old enough to get a job mi abuelito wouldn’t give him a single cent to do anything. To this day my dad has never borrowed any kind of money from mi abuelito. He formed him into the strong, respectable person he is now. My dad has never showed emotion or shed a tear because he was taught that it was a sign of weakness. Sponging up advice I somewhat followed the idea. I told myself it was ok. Somehow not opening my eyes to reality I told myself mi abuelito would get better. I told myself the fall from the bus ride years ago never happened to him. But it did happen. He did fall from the bus getting off, and he did hit his head on the stairs. He also had to get surgery, but it wasn’t enough. After the unbearable visit to mi abuelito’s place and getting his haircut we went back to my aunt’s house.
A few weeks later we finally headed out. Another trip in Mexico had finally ended and we drove home. A year and a half later I was at home playing guitar in my own world. Up until I heard the news about mi abuelito passing away. Everything about that day when he got his haircut flashed before my eyes. It played over in my head like a movie. It played as if he were right there in front of me. I ran to find my dad in his room crying. He cried like a toddler addicted to a pacifier without one. That was the day I started believing in family trips and emotions. Spend time with those you love. You never know when a close one to you will never again be in your presence. I believe in making sure that you show those you love just how much you love them.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.