Dear Busy Son

4:59:00 pm

I stumbled across this article written by Bonnie Selberg, published in July 1992, in "The Rotarian" magazine. So I thought to share with you as it is a touching story. Here it goes, unedited;
"Do you think he'll come today?", the old gentleman asks, looking up to me from his wheelchair. It is much to early for visitors but already at sunrise he is watching the nursing home driveway...waiting...hoping.
Day after day, week after week, month after lonely month, the old-timer keeps this hopeless vigil, peering out the window of his small room, expecting to one day see his son walking up the sidewalk.
"Today?" He repeats. His sad gray eyes, clouded with age and a hurt I am powerless to ease, probe mine for the answer. As always, his interrogation makes me feel helpless and angry on behalf of this forgotten father.
How I wish I could say, "Yes! Today your son is coming!" How often I have imagined the old man's withered face, radiant with the happiness of knowing the long wait is over- he will see his boy again!
However, I am a nurse, and my profession demands honesty; so again this morning, I must gently tell him that I don't know if his son will come, but I will help him hope.
I softly touch his shoulder to convey my support, and his gnarled hand clutches mine. I stand there for a while, silently sharing his longing and loneliness, hoping my touch will somehow help him through this moment.
His most difficult hours are dawn and sunset, those quiet, introspective times when the human spirit seems to naturally pause and reflect, evaluate, think of loved ones, and come face to face with truth.
From somewhere, deep inside, the old gentleman pulls out a remnant of courage, straightens himself up in his chair, and loyally tells me how very busy his son is, how difficult it is for him to get away from his work. His boy you see, is a very important person; the demands upon his time are great and many. But very soon his son will come...soon. I nod and allow the old-timer to go on with this presence. It is, after all, the only thing he has.
The old man then recalls some happy events from long ago: the day he taught his son to ride a bicycle; a fishing trip the two shared one summer, the happy Christmas when ,as a young father, he scrimped and saved to give the boy an electric train.
Christmas...I remember how it was last year. At a time when everyone around him was caught up in the joyous holiday spirit, exchanging gifts and best wishes, the old man sat alone, staring at the shining, ornamented tree, more painfully aware than ever that his son had forgotten him. Oh, the nurses made sure he was involved with the special festivities of the season, but for all our caring, we couldn't replace a son's love and devotion.
I leave the old man's room now. He is lost in a golden haze of beautiful memories of his little boy. He will be happy for a time.
On my way down the hall, I am trying to understand you, Busy Son. Do you know how much your father wants to see you? Do you know how happy be would be if you came today? Is there a reason for your silence?
If you can't get away, please, find time to send a letter, flowers- anything at all. It takes so little, actually. Remember the postcard you sent to him from Hawaii three years ago? He still takes it down from his empty bulletin board and proudly shows it to other residents. I overhear him describing in great detail the wonderful job you have that enables you travel to such lovely places. Yes, he can make a tiny bit of your attention last forever...almost.
I wonder if you find it difficult to come and see the broken-down, withered bodies of the very ill and elderly. Do you know that trapped inside each emaciated, pain-ridden shell there still lives a human being who needs and responds to love? They aren't so different, really.
Your father may not be quite as you remember him- he can no longer walk, and he doesn't hear well. One arm is paralyzed, and his speech is slurred due to a stroke he suffered last winter. He, and the others here have had to leave their beloved homes and cherished possessions to face the indignities of failing bodies and mind. And yet, he still remembers, misses, and loves you. For him, you are his greatest creation. He believes in you; his faith in you is never shaken.
You will be missing so much, Busy Son, if you don't stop by to see your father. If you come today, he will not reproach you for your tardiness. He will give you a welcome like no other you have ever had. Your trip will be worthwhile. I promise.
Please come now, while there is still time. I am not sure how many sunrises are left."
This article also refers to daughters regardless of the title. Some of us are to busy for our families, parents especially. Old age is what we all pray for but it comes with a lot of challenges such as loneliness. At this time, a lot of love and care is needed from family. For those of you with aged parents, please do well to visit them once in a while. Don't be too busy.
xo, Evita.
Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of the image used in this post. It was sourced from Google.

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