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Hospital stay allows time to reflect

by Debra Hale-Shelton | February 23, 2020 at 2:08 a.m.

A few of you have asked about my heart surgery; actually surgeries--plural--since I had two in about a week's time.

I'm doing well and am staying in a rehabilitation center before I go home.

The first surgery was planned; the second was the result of my falling off my bed during recovery and breaking my sternum.

While I'm no expert on physical fitness, I've learned a few things lately:

• Hospital and rehab food live up to their image: bad. Tonight, for example, my main courses included mashed potatoes accompanied by fried sweet potatoes and some sort of vegetable soup. Another night I feasted on tuna salad, creatively made without a drop of mayonnaise in sight.

• Be nice to your nurses. You may need their help when you find yourself sitting on the floor rather than a chair.

• Treasure those friends and relatives who visit you, some bearing gifts of flowers and food; others sharing cards, laughter and prayers.

Two heart surgeries have at times left me a tad depressed and at other times just longing for happier, bygone days, like those I used to spend at Star Barber Shop in downtown Marked Tree.

I sat on the vintage black booster seat at the shop where my dad cut my hair and trimmed my bangs, usually too short.

In truth, I do not remember that far back, but I know he had the horizontal booster seat when I was little and that its metal stretched from one arm of the larger barber's chair to the other.

As I grew up, I sat in the adult chair where he cut, permed, colored, and straightened my hair. A few times, I was a blonde. At other times, I had blonde streaks. My hair went from naturally straight to curls that would put Shirley Temple to shame. My hair was short, long, in between.

In the 1960s, I told him I wanted a ducktail, a popular style at the time. OK, he said, and cut my hair. I didn't see a ducktail. "It will grow into it," he said.

Once he did one thing too many to my hair, and it turned pink. This was the late 1970s; pink was not in style, especially for a junior high school teacher.

As a teenager, I had acne. So after school or church, Daddy would take me to the barber shop and give me a facial. I mostly remember the hot wet barber towels--white with a yellow vertical streak down the middle--covering my face. I preferred acne to facials.

The shop on Elm Street in Marked Tree had an old-fashioned phone (the number was 15 and later ended in 2933), along with a row of chairs for customers, at first only men but later women as well. Over the years, Daddy added one or two hair dryers and high-end styling products that many women preferred.

Sometime after his first grandchild, Audie, was born, Daddy stored an old refrigerator door in the shop. Audie wrote his name on it and drew pictures on it, including the words The Mosquito City beside a picture of a huge mosquito--"the smallest one I've seen yet," Audie wrote.

The next grandson, Tyler, added his autograph and more pictures, as did my daughter, Annie. After Daddy retired, I moved the door to my office. Now it leans against a wall in my garage, where it awaits a new home.

At some point, Daddy moved his shop across the street and renamed it Al's Family Hair Center. He last cut my hair about a year and a half ago, but in my kitchen, not at Star Barber Shop.

Now that the surgeries are behind me, I'm determined to get my priorities straight while enjoying life. That means it's time to book an appointment to get my hair styled and colored--maybe red. And if red hair is ahead, can a tattoo be far off?

Debra Hale-Shelton can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @nottalking.

Editorial on 02/23/2020

Print Headline: Hospital stay allows time to reflect


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