by Roy Popkin

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside.

"Your son is here," she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words

several times before the patient's eyes opened. Heavily sedated because

of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed

Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand.


The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's

limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse

brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed.


All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly

lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love

and strength.


Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and

rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the

Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital -

the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff

members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.

Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man

said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.


Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the

now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While

she did what she had to do, he waited. Finally, she returned. She

started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her. "Who

was that man?" he asked.

The nurse was startled, "He was your father" she answered.

"No, he wasn't," the Marine replied. "I never saw him before in

my life."

"Then why didn't you say something when I took you to him?"

"I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he

needed his son, and his son just wasn't here. When I realized that he

was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he

needed me. I stayed."

The next time someone needs there. Stay. You'll be

glad you did.


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)