Must Be Said

The old man settled back into his bed at the nursing home. Lunch had been passable. He wasn't interested in any of the afternoon programs. Pretty hard when the sight was almost gone. His lower back hurt. Feet were swollen.

He let go with one long sigh. His son was late. That was usually the case. But he enjoyed seeing him. Hearing a little bit about how life went on for one almost thirty years his junior. It would get him to remembering the good times shared. The meals. The afternoons at the lake. The ball games. The quiet evening chats by the fireplace in the old home.

There was something that he shared with his boy which even his wife, God bless her, could not provide. She held another room in the facility and was probably busy at bingo or watching a movie with her new-found friends. He was happy that she had found some breathing space.

He felt himself drifting off...but then a few uncommon sounds and a jostling of his foot. "Well, I see you made it." His fifties-something son gave the usual excuses about finishing off the work day, hectic traffic etc.

The old man waited for the next prompting to conversation. Awkward moment. He found that he had nothing to say. A tear was deposited on his right cheek.

"Dad, are you trying out the walker some more? Are you working on that back strength?" How strange such questions seemed to a son who had always known the father physically strong and active.

The son gulped and then launched in with the thoughts that had been awkwardly composed on the drive over. "Sometimes it seems as if you are giving up. If you did Dad, I would understand. It has been a full life. But if you see some hope unfulfilled or some continuing purpose in being a comfort to Mom, then do what you can each day."

(He was gaining confidence and momentum now.) "Please know that I love you Pop. You and Mom have always shown me what marriage can be. You gave me a keen interest in sport, in the outdoors, in people, in a good day's work. It took children of my own to make clear to me how unselfish you were with your time. Your unique sense of humour was always welcome. You were patient and quiet when I made decisions which hurt you badly. You were also quick to forgive. Thank you, Pop. I would not have wanted any other father."

The eyes were shut. The breathing was deeper. Was he sleeping? Had he missed it? The one big hand reached out across the covers and grabbed the son's forearm and squeezed it. There were no more words.


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