I have a metal comb. It’s the single material possession I inherited from my grandfather, Alex. His name I carry as my middle name, and have bestowed to my first son.

Grandpa Alex was a barber. He had a barber shop in his house in a small town in Ohio, and that metal comb is one of the tools of his trade. I don’t remember how it came to me, but either my grandmother or my father must have passed it along.

My son Alex knows the story of his great-grandfather, since I’ve told it to him several times. He likes to use the comb on my hair, especially when it’s wet from the shower, to comb it into a three-year-old’s version of a neat coif.

Today, as he walked over to me, comb in hand, Alex told his mother, “This is my comb, from when I was a barber.”

No one’s taught Alex about the wheel of life yet, but I think he gets it.

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