Small piece of paper with a red heart drawn on it pegged to a piece of twine. Quote next to it saying Everyone has something they can give because kindness is free!

Many, many years ago, I had my appendix taken out and recuperated in a mixed public ward in a Melbourne hospital.

One old chap there (well, he was old to me at the time but he was probably only in his 40’s or 50’s) was really down. I asked why and he said his wife was coming to see him. It was a big event, he’d been in hospital for months without visitors because he was from the country. He was down because he thought he looked shabby and wanted to spruce himself up to see his wife. He confided his biggest hate was not having a haircut, so I told him I’d have a go at tidying him up but warned him I wasn’t a hairdresser.

He was so happy at just the idea of “getting tidy” that I asked the nurses if they could find me a higher chair for him (I’m tall, and even though I was bent over a bit because of the appendix scar I still couldn’t bend low enough to reach his head in a patients lounge chair) and towels and a comb and scissors, which they kindly did and also set up the makeshift barbers for me.

I took quite some time to do a simple cut because I didn’t know what I was doing and so proceeded very slowly so that I didn’t stuff it up, but in the end I thought the cut would be what he would like and when he looked in the mirror he agreed wholeheartedly.

It was so good to see how happy he was and I felt great until I looked up and saw the queue that had formed from the long-term patients to get a haircut! I couldn’t stand for long to cut everyone’s hair added to which I was awfully slow because I didn’t know what I was doing, but we ended up organising each other until there were two chairs operating and patients took turns to groom other patients.

It’s amazing how good we all felt, helping each other in a joint grooming session, just like monkeys. There were lots of laughs that afternoon in the ward and the nurses thoroughly enjoyed the show too. I’d forgotten about that afternoon, until you reminded me, now I’m sitting here smiling all over my face. Thank you for the memories. – Sue

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