Zayde's Fake Beard | The Dreamweaver

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

I stopped by my grandparent's house on Maplewood to visit my great-grandfather, who I hadn't seen in some time. When I arrived, there was a lot of activity and my grandmother's neighbors kept coming in and out as if there was something urgent going on in one of the two apartments above them (they lived on the top floor of a three-story building in real life). A caregiver rolled my great-grandfather into the frontroom in a wheel chair and I was surprised to see he had grown quite a long, dark beard. Upon closer examination, it was actually a fake beard tied on to the back of his ears with a string. My grandmother came over and said that he was in need of a shave and I told her I was in on the joke. But then she removed the fake beard revealing a smaller, but prominent "real" beard underneath, long, white and hanging from his chin. I told her I had become a barber and would be more than happy to give him a shave, but everyone involved thought it wouldn't be a good idea for him to be taken to my barbershop, especially in his fragile condition. Just then, I suggested that I simply bring my tools over to the house and shave him there, to which everyone agreed. My great-grandfather then turned to his caregiver and asked her to put the fake beard back on because he didn't like the look of his own beard. One of the neighbors, a woman who I recognized as having been an old friend of my grandmother's, came running in and said my grandmother needed to get upstairs right away as the situation with the other neighbor was escalating and it was felt that the woman's life might be in danger. Then I woke up.

[Photo: My zayde, Sam Satin, and me on the evening of my bar mitzvah. Evanston, Illinois, 26 June 1976].

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