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The Last Windrow: They don't call me 'Red' anymore

The face staring back at me from a bathroom mirror used to show a young lad with a shock of reddish golden hair. Some of my friends used to call me “Red.” The pictures taken of me in my youth would show me strutting down a sidewalk alongside my dad with a lefthand hair part showing atop my boyish countenance.

I was shaving the other morning when for some reason it struck me that my hair was no longer red and there is a lot less of it. I was having trouble finding enough of it to part.

It was a shock of a sort because I usually don’t pay that much attention to my hair, but for some reason this morning I did. Maybe it was that I was just more aware of things because of the just passed Minnesota fishing opener and I’m just more sensitive? I don’t really know.

Most men who have reached my age have lost some of their locks. I’m envious of those who can still sport a flat top haircut with nothing but hair follicles showing across the top of their pates.

I wouldn’t be a candidate for a flat top haircut because there is nothing left to make a flat top out of. There is a glow that follows me around on sunny days or under fluorescent lights.

The loss of a man’s hair can be mentally damaging. We males who at one time prided ourselves in having enough hair to create one of those double-part styles have had to bow to the foibles of time and satisfy ourselves doing various kinds of “comb-overs” to keep some sense of pride in our appearance.

Maybe it was the story of Sampson in the Bible that made me think that losing my hair was part of going into the tank. I’ve disproved the theory that hair is a sign of strength by showing that I can still weed the garden, hoist bags of salt to our softener and just the other day I rolled a large jack pine stump up unto a tractor’s drawbar with only a slight whimper.

Hair really has nothing to do with strength, thank you very much Sampson.

My hair disappeared gradually. I knew I was in trouble as I watched my older uncles on my mother’s side of the family start losing their hair. I knew genetics was not on my side. One by one they got thinner and thinner on top until they all just threw in the towel and had the barber take it all off instead of trimming the sides.

There were no attempts at hair grafting or using some drug to restore their tresses. They just bit the bullet and cleaned the slate, so to speak. They’d all been in the service, so had experienced having a shaved head.

I have to admit, their haircuts did look a lot more carefree.

And, I’ve learned to live with what I have remaining for hair as well. From those early years when my dad would give me haircuts in the kitchen of our farmhouse and there were actually piles of red hair lying around the base of our madeup barber chair, to today when I ask my barber to just give me the “summer cut” and I see what hair I have left dropping like snowflakes to the smock around my neck, it has been a long journey.

When I looked at that reflection in the mirror the other morning, I knew then why they don’t call me “Red” anymore.

See you next time, Okay?