A random act of kindness has warmed the hearts of one family who had been holidaying in Sligo during a particularly difficult time.
rancis Owens, originally from Meath, spoke to The Sligo Champion about how while visiting Enniscrone, himself, his wife, and their six-year-old son Kaelan decided to visit Sligo town on their way home.
Kaelan was diagnosed with leukaemia last April and had started to experience hair loss while going through treatment and Francis decided to take him to Top Cut Barbers in Johnston Court to have his hair tidied up as it was starting to become thin and patchy.
“I explained to the barber that with another tough stage of treatment due to start this coming week we will see the remainder of his hair fall out and having it tidier and tighter would make this a little less of a strain for our wee man,” he said.
Having explained their situation to the barber, Francis says a customer must have overheard their conversation because when he went to pay, he was told that it had already been paid for.
“I was shocked, I didn’t even know the guy, but he was sitting in front of me. When the chair became free, he said no you go on and I took my son into it, I took his cap off and explained the situation to the barber,” he said.
“The barber went off and got a Superman apron and you can imagine the big smile on Kaelan once they got that out.
“I was looking at everything, all the reactions on his face and hadn’t a clue what was going on in the barbershop otherwise.
“When he finished, Kaelan was delighted with the haircut and then they told me that the other guy had paid for it.
“I didn’t know what to say to, he said I heard you talking so I paid for that. I stuck the fist out and gave him a fist bump and said thanks a million and that was that.”
Francis says this random act of kindness meant a lot to him and he wished he had the opportunity to properly thank the individual who he met on Thursday, August 25.
He had red hair and was potentially wearing a Liverpool top.
“It’s the simple things, I said it to my wee lad in the shop but there was so much going on with him being offered lollipops and everything.
“I told him again when we got home that the man paid for it and since then he’s been seeing other nice things happening and saying that it’s like the guy who paid for my haircut,” he said.
“This is the reaction he had, it’s sticking in his head and now when people tell him his hair looks cool he tells them about the guy in the shop who paid for it.”
Francis says when he came out of the barbers, he had tears in his eyes.
“My wife asked me what happened, and I told her about the stranger and how it just gets to you in a nice way. It was such a nice interaction and if I met the man in the street, I’d love to get him a pint and say thanks very much, it’s just a very nice thing he did.”
Francis says that Kaelan started to feel unwell on his sixth birthday in April and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia just two days later, but he has found being open and honest with him about what he’s going through has been the best policy.
“Kids are brilliant, and they’ll tell you that in the hospital, if you are upfront with everything that’s going on they’ll come on board with it. We tell him in advance this is what’s happening, this what it will do, and this why we are doing it. It makes him a bit more okay with it and prepared,” he said.
“We do this for everything, even with haircuts. We told him his hair is going to fall out and he was alright with it. He went to school with his hair falling out and kids being kids will laugh or ask questions, it’s natural but it did knock him back a little bit. Everything is a hurdle, but you get through it.”
With all the difficulties their family has faced Francis felt it was important to highlight some of the positive experiences in life and that he will not forget that one simple interaction in the Sligo barbershop.
To the man who took the time out of his day for a random act of kindness Francis has a message: “I can only hope your journey is running a little smoother than ours at the moment and your fortunes are repaid for what you gave us that day.
“I gave you a fist bump. I would have hugged you on the spot if you weren’t in the barber’s chair. I would have taken you for a pint if I was in town for the day.”