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The Warmth of that Halo from an Angel

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volunteer companion for the elderly here, photo from online

Grateful toward the volunteers at the hospital, for helping you with your father’s, final passage of life, and now, you hoped to, pass that same kindness onward too, translated…

He’d Asked Me to Think Hard on the Matter, So I Don’t Have Any Regrets, Those Eyes, Peaceful as the Oceans without the Waves, Reflected the Gentle Light of the Moon, and They’d Understood, All My Worries, My Considerations………..

After reading Mr. Zheng-Hsiung Hsu’s “I Volunteer at the E.R.”, my mind was pulled back to the E.R. of the hospital twelve years ago.  Back then, it was just the beginning of the springtime, the sunshine outside was warming, while my heart, my mind was, experiencing the sleet, the snow, the hail, it’d felt like my world was, crumbling down.

I Am, Making the Right Decisions, aren’t I?

My dear dad was diagnosed with liver cancer, he was eighty-five years old, weakened in his physical health, and mildly, demented too, he’d slept, longer than he was, awake, and it didn’t look good.  As we waited for the hospital room to become available, the doctor asked, “if”, and would I want to resuscitate him?  He’d told me to think on the matter thoroughly, so I won’t have any regrets in the futures, his eyes, peaceful like the oceans without the waves, reflected the gentle rays of the moon, and made me felt that he’d, understood what I was, faced with.

There was the bed that became available in the hospice, I’d taken all our belongings, and an unsettled heart, I’d, wheeled my father, to the place, closest to heaven on earth.  After I’d settled my father in, the nurse, after filling out the forms, left temporarily.  That bed was next to the window, it’d, allowed me to see the blue skies and the moon, to tell if it was night or day; I’d, pull back the curtains, and, this was, the tiny world that belonged to just my father and I.  I’d turned on the T.V., and, switched to Animal Planet, my father’s eyes opened up, and he’d started speaking, “bear!” yes, there was, an American black bear on.

In the sleep and wake of close to twenty days, my father spoke, for the very, first time, I suppose, I’d, made the, right decisions by him then?

The following day after the doctors made the rounds, there was a petit volunteer who’d, led me to familiarize myself with the surrounding environment, but I’d, looked over at my father in the bed, became, hesitant, not wanted to leave his side.  “Don’t worry, your father won’t disappear, it’s a secure place, there are some equipment that you can take him to use, there’s also, an aerial courtyard on the sixth floor, you can wheel your father in the afternoons for some sun.”  She’d patted my shoulders, given me a smile, and I saw two dimples came onto her cheeks.

I’d followed close by her side, as she’d, taken me on that walk-through.  Passing the nurse’s stations, she’d pointed to the tea keg, told, “every morning the volunteers would bring in a fresh brew of tea, you can get some here, and you can soak the teas in the sponges and brush your father’s teeth with it too, it’ll make him feel a whole lot better, having fresh breaths, he’ll surely, have an appetite for food then!”  We’d walked past a huge aquarium, cute Nemo swam in-between the sea anemones, “this tank is Gu’s territory, the young girl, Lin in the next room to your father’s, is a huge fan, and she’d come, more than three times a day to look!”  Passed through the laundry room and the fridge, there was, a prayer room, a small Buddhist shrine, “when you can’t handle it anymore, and not wanted to tell anyone, just come in here!”  The Goddess of Mercy, Jesus Christ, do tell the cancer cells in your father’s systems, that we’re not, trying to kill them, but, please, don’t torture dad, and just, coexist in peace with him.

We’d arrived to the lobby then, the black couch separated the space, on the right, there’s the T.V., the shelves for books, newspapers, and magazines, the corner by the window had the foot massage machines, and the exercise bike, the massage chair, on the left, a simple kitchen, and tale, on the kitchen counters, the food processer, and the Datong rice cooker.  “This is Wang’s area, everything you see is donated by the volunteers, you can use it at your will, just clean them up after you used them, and put the items back where you find them”.  I’d decided, to make some juices for dad then.

She’d continued, “if your dad can’t come over here, then, you can borrow the foot massage and take it back to his hospital room to use.  This couch is quite comfortable, when your families come, you can come here for a short nap, or have your meals here, you’ll feel more at home.”  Her explaining everything was warm, and it’d, energized me, and my heart felt, comforted.

illustration from UDN.com

圖/Emily Chan

She’d Given My Father the Courage to Return Home

That aerial courtyard became a small piece of heaven that my father and I shared, we’d gazed up at the blue skies, the white clouds, watching the butterflies danced, the fish in the lotus pond, and, I noted how that flower started, blooming upward, from the corner of, my father’s, lips.  I’d wondered, would I be, asking too much, if the days just go on like this, forever?

In about a month, my father became, stabilized, the feeding tubes, the catheter, and the drips were all, removed.  The nurses asked, “would you like to take your father home?”, of course I do, but, at home, there’s not the medical profession staff members as back up, and I’d, worried that there might be situations that I couldn’t, handle on my own—oh, I’m so very afraid, that my father would, start, coughing up blood again.

And I was, caught, in this battle once more.  The following day, the volunteer took me to the couch for a chit chat, “you’d taken good care of your father these past few weeks, he would wish to return home, where he’d felt, familiar in, with the families around him.  The nurses’ station will offer the 24-hour support calls, the nurses of the hospice program will visit your home by the week, don’t be afraid, you can, check your father back in if something were to, happen.  I’m sure, that your father will help you out, he does, feel for you, he will, find ways, to encourage you.”  She’d, spoken out my fears, and, gave me the courage to, take dad home.

We’d not returned into the hospital again.  On a weekend supper a month later, he’d opened up those bright eyes wide, and, looked at us deeply for one last time, then, headed up to heaven, to accompany our, grandparents.

I want to say thank you to the men and women who volunteered at the hospital, for giving us that light in the darkness we desperately, needed.  And, when the time comes, I too, shall become, a light for those who are, lost in the darkness, thank you.

And so, this is how kindness gets, passed on down, because you’d, received the emotional support you were in need of during your father’s hospitalization, and the words of the volunteer, helped you cope with your father’s conditions, and as you are, finally healed from the loss of your own father, you plan to, give back to the community, just like these hospital volunteers had done too, passing along, that sense of helping others, that kindness along.

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January 17, 2021 · 5:28 am