This week I had a chance to see three elderly fathers take care of their dying sons.
And tonight I saw two of them say their final goodbyes.
One man came from an hour away from here. Every morning he would dutifully come and care for his 23 year-old ill and bed-bound son. He’d clean his son’s swollen face, his bleeding mouth, wipe his sweat. He’d feed his son, even though the boy could not eat much. He’d try to talk him out of his discomfort. He’d attempt to reassure the young man that everything is going to be alright. While at home his wife is taking care of the lad’s own little boy.
Yesterday he got to know that his little boy is sick at home. He wanted to go home, and the father anxiously talked to us to let them go. And so we did. So with a lot of effort, his aged father pushed him in the wheelchair, hoping that they both would arrive safely at home.
Another man is ill himself. He’d come in a wheelchair, his own legs swollen, to visit his dying son. He’d sit in his wheelchair for hours. He’d sit there from the afternoon til night. His ill son preferred to lie on his lazy chair than the hospital bed. So his father would sometimes lie on the bed.
This evening he sat outside the side room, as always, on his wheelchair, his legs both swollen, eyes tearing.
He had just seen his son pass on in front of him.
The third man is the one who touched my heart the most.
His son is exactly a year older than my boss; he’s 40. He had only been unwell recently. When he was brought into the hospital last weekend, he was already very ill. Of course, he wanted the best to be done for his beloved son.
His son never got better. Days passed and he only become further away from health. His father faithfully came everyday, of course, to care for his son. His hair grey, his back a little hunched, his face concerned with a little frown. He’d take turns with his wife – he’d be there on the day, and his wife at night.
We could all see that it’s really difficult on him. Caring for his son, at the same time being a good support for his wife, who’d still hope for some kind of miracle to happen. He had to keep the family together. His other son and daughter were out of the country.
I could clearly remember the day we all talked to him. With a calm face he said to my boss.
“I know. I know how he is now. I know that the worst might happen. I could accept that, if that is fated to him, for us to lose him. But I’m his father. If you ask me what I want for my son, of course I want the best for him. I would want everything to be done, before we give it up to fate.”
Tonight, it was evident that he has accepted his fate. That he had to say goodbye to his son first.
It was clear that it was heavy on him.
But it was also clear that he would stay calm and composed.
Because he needed to be. For his wife. For his family.
For his beloved son.
* * *
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers out there.
If all fathers were as responsible and loyal, the world would be a very peaceful place.