The First Cut is always the deepest


The First Cut is always the Deepest

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Ross Hayes
Circa: November 2013
I was at the Blade barbershop with my sons back in November---sitting down checking my email (and my boys patiently waiting and reading to occupy themselves until their name was called), when one of the patrons put his two year old son in the barber chair.  As soon as his dad put him down, he started screaming at the top of his lungs, a slightly fearful yet innocent crying that all toddlers exhibit at that age when getting a haircut for the first time.   Hearing the cries of that little boy triggered an event in my memory that had long since been buried in the depths of my mind--a memory that I would like to share with you.  The event was the first time I took all three of my sons to 'The Blade' barbershop (across from Birmingham H.S.) for haircuts back in the fall of 2007.

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Matthew Hayes
Circa: November 2013
Although my youngest son Ross still wasn't getting his hair cut (his mom still insisting on cutting it herself), seeing all of them at the barbershop simultaneously brought on a feeling of elation that I will try to adequately put into words.  I recognized it as another 'seminal moment' in my life, as I observed three young lives unfolding right before me; and I was absolutely ecstatic that I was responsible for all three.  As challenging as it was (and still is), I accepted that challenge and was honored that the universe had chosen me for such a task.   

As I reflected on it; Chad, Matthew and (eventually) Ross Hayes each had very unique experiences their first time in the barber's chair.  Chad was very quiet, and yet squirming all over the place.  Matthew (Mr. Fussy) was very uncomfortable, crying in the chair at Reggie's barbershop (our old barber, who I gave up for geographic reasons) for almost a full five minutes.   When Ross finally sat in the chair, he had already had the experience of watching his brothers, and the challenge for him was to step up and be a 'big boy'.

I lamented the fact that my father had never taken me to get a haircut, or anywhere else memorable enough to mention.  I don't hate my father for that, I actually have pity on his soul (he passed away in 1969).  For as intensely joyful as that experience was for me that day, at the opposite end of that spectrum lay the lost opportunity for my father to experience what I felt in that moment; and the degree of life moments lost are always magnified exponentially.  It's a loss that we both suffered before he died, as we missed a chance to form an eternal bond. It is a  bond that I still miss at times, even today.

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Chad Hayes
Circa: November 2013
On this particular day, I made a soulful commitment that such an opportunity would not be lost on me-- nor my sons.  I stepped outside of myself and became the observer, long enough and quietly enough to recognize the brevity and pure beauty in the moment; and ultimately to understand the enormous size and burden of the biggest stage of all--one's legacy.

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MTS and me
Circa: October 2014
The realization of this 'easy burden' (a phrase I am borrowing from the legendary Civil Rights Activist/ Politician Andrew Young) drove me to the point of tears, as I was moved by how routine yet important this day was in my legacy.  In an instant I had changed the heritage of fatherhood in my family.  I came to the stark realization that in the final analysis it won't be about the major events, but the small pockets of time that we shared together as a family.  It is my hope to be able to 'brand' enough of these events into the very fabric of the souls of my sons, that there will never be any doubt as to how much I love them.  By definition, this understanding will allow them to receive and appreciate my love eternally, long after I am physically around to show it.  It's  a phrase I came up with called, "Love eternal, burns internally for all eternity."  I know this love is real, because I experience it daily.   My mother (who passed away in 2003 from lung cancer, and whose journey inspired my book "Six Months with Mommy"), still hugs me every day--but from within. I want my sons to know that same security, especially in light of our current forced (and temporary) separation (More on that after our pending February 6th court date).

20 years from now (God Willing), Chad--Matthew--& Ross will walk into some barbershop with their kids in tow for the first time.  They will sit down in the waiting area and try to read a magazine, or send a text message--- but spend more time trying to keep their sons occupied and out of mischief while they await their turn.  Anxiousness and impatience will initially dominate their emotional landscape, as my grandchildren wait nervously for their name to be called.

And if I have done my job as a father--- then in an instant it will hit them; there REALLY IS NO RUSH AT ALL, as they are exactly where they are supposed to be in the universe:  planting the loving seeds of fatherly experience that I have gifted to them for the next generation.  (I love MTS eternally)  12-29-14

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