After his haircut, the young man stepped behind my chair and, without saying a word, hugged me. I must say, in all humility, it was a great haircut. It wasn’t the haircut, though, that brought about the hug. It was the result of a bond we had established during the haircut.

While cutting his hair, I mentioned that I had recently, and unexpectedly, lost my mom. She would have been 75 in July. She had only had two surgeries in her life and had enjoyed good health and independence.

One day, while visiting with her, she mentioned to me that she was having some problems. A subsequent doctor’s visit indicated she needed a hysterectomy. It seemed simple enough. She would have the surgery and be up and about in no time.

It was not to be. In a month the cancer metastasized, apparently from her uterus, to her abdomen and lungs and she was gone. I still can’t believe it.

As I shared these things with my customer, he told me of his mother’s bout with cancer. Though her illness was much longer, it too had been fatal. I knew all that he was telling me, having heard it at the time from him and his father. This time it had new meaning. Though I felt for both of them before, on this occasion my feelings were deeper and more sympathetic. I KNEW how he felt.

I told him that I had the urge to call Mom every day, just as I was accustomed to doing. That, while planning her funeral, I thought, “Maybe I should call Mom and see what she thinks about this list of pallbearers.” Then I caught myself.

In her novel, “Five Smooth Stones,” one of Ann Fairbairn’s characters speaks of such impulses concerning his departed mother, “My mother died ten years ago, but it still happens to me. The people we love never really leave us.”

I also told him of our traditions. With few exceptions, we had coffee at Mom’s house on Monday mornings and lunch at the Hometown Buffet (same table) on Wednesdays.

He understood all of this, and the emptiness that goes along with it. He said he, also, still had times when he thought as if his mom had not passed, and then he came back to reality.

As we talked, I repeatedly thought, “I know how he feels. He knows how I feel.” Twenty-five years difference in age didn’t matter. What mattered were a shared experience and its benefits.

Sadly, we can’t bring our moms back. But, we can go on as better people. Individuals with greater understanding for the suffering and loss of others and a deeper appreciation for the lives of those we see daily. Especially should this be true regarding our loved ones.

Dad’s death several years ago hurt, but was expected. He’d been terminally ill as a COPD patient for so long. Mom, though, was not supposed to die so soon. Yet, such could be said of many others we’ve all known.

Though I’m comforted in the spiritual convictions Mom and I shared, and that she and Dad instilled in me, I also take consolation in the countless pleasant hours we spent together.

BARBER-OSOPHY: When it comes time for loved ones to be separated by death, no one ever says, “I sure wish we had spent less time together.”

Author's Bio: 

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Terry L. Sumerlin, known as the Barber-osopher, is the author of "Barber-osophy," and is a columnist for the San Antonio Business Journal. He speaks nationally as a humorist/motivational speaker. Visit his website at