Locks of Hair
One of my dear friends spoke in church on Sunday. He told us a story I wanted to relate because it was so very sweet and personal.
His grown son, Jack (name has been changed), had recently returned home from prison. They were very excited to have him home and grateful he was coming. When he arrived, he wore his hair very long, down to his waist.
His father saw this as a continued sign of his rebelliousness and asked him to have it cut. He refused. It was a warm contention for several weeks and months. Jack’s older brothers tried to tell their father what Jack’s hair meant to him. They explained that in prison, Jack was told where to sleep, when to sleep, what to wear, when to eat, where to eat, what to eat, when and if he could exercise and what that looked like. The only freedom Jack had while in prison, was what his hair looked like. So to Jack, he could not give up his hair as it represented his only freedom while he was in prison.
Their father, as the boys were young, always had control of their hair. He kept it off their ears and collars. He usually gave them a buzz-cut or a flat top. As they became teenagers, the father had to let go of complete control and they agreed to let their mother cut their hair to their liking, however, if the father did not approve, he had veto power and everyone knew Dad would then cut their hair as he had in the past. So the hair issue, to the father, was a big deal.
When Christmas morning rolled around and the father opened his gift, inside the small silver box, he found a lock of hair. At first, he did not know what to make of it, but as he looked at Jack, he noticed that Jack had cut his hair. His first thought was, ‘Yes! I won!!’ But then he related, “My thoughts should have been: ‘Jack gave me the only thing he had to give, his hair. My son gave me himself.’ ” Then he asked each of us to think about what we could give that would constitute the giving of ourselves.
Now my friend’s story is made more poignant if you know the rest of their story. My friend’s son is a returned missionary. He injured his back, had a bad surgery, and got hooked on pain killers which led to further drug use, and eventually his time in prison. He had been married and divorced and had two or three children who are now young adults.
I was living near my friend when his son returned home from prison. I was wary of my interactions with Jack, but I soon leaned Jack had a heart of gold. He loved people, all people. He was kind to them and treated them with respect. He had a great sense of humor.
We live on the corner of a busy street. People come around the corner of our street pretty quickly. As we were getting out of the car, on the street side, in front of our house one day, a car came screeching around the corner and honked its horn right behind us, then pulled up in front of us and stopped. It was Jack, who was laughing hysterically. He had just frightened the snot out of his Bishop. Jack was sweet and adorable, even considering his past struggles.
Last year, Jack died. We all mourned. I am sure my dear friends, whose baby he is, miss him dearly. In fact, I know they do. He died in their home, his home. I miss Jack too.
I also know that one day, because of the atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will see Jack again. His parents will again embrace him and love him. He will be free from the pains and sins that beset his mortal body and he will be whole, maybe even with long hair.