Being There When He Needed It Most
--by wayfarer, posted Jan 30, 2009
Mr Mitchell was our neighbour for a while. He and his wife had been the terrors of the local kids before we came to the square. If a ball went into their garden it was never seen again-- that kind of thing.
Well, she was gone now and Mr Mitchell was in his late eighties. The rose garden he had planted for her was an overgrown jungle and that was how I came into his story. I knew he was infirm, but I didn't know if he had any help and none of the other neighbours cared anymore. (They'd put up with it a lot longer than we had.)
One summer Mr Mitchell was taken into hospital for a short stay. While he was away I thought he might like to come home to a neat and tidy garden, one he could sit out in on sunny days. Even to get into the back yard I had to cut away overgrown rose bushes. It was real Sleeping Beauty's castle stuff. Not knowing whether he'd aprove or not I chopped and clipped and mowed and dug (worrying all the time that I might be going too far.) He never said if he liked it, but he began to sit out more. He never said he didn't like it, so for the next couple of years I kept on doing it.
Being really frail he often took tumbles. One night after laying on the floor for two hours unable to get up he banged on the wall between our houses and I went and picked him up. This happened again and again. Eventually he asked if I would take an alert beeper in case he needed help.
I became some kind of a nurse. I would pick him up in my arms, help him dress and undress, once I even wiped his bottom for him. I started going in nightly just to see he was okay and stroke his brow as he lay in bed. Through all of this he was still a cantankerous old man.
Mr Mitchell is not with us now, but before the end he showed me his medals from WWII. He'd been a boy on a minesweeper ship during the war. Being the youngest and fastest he was always chosen to light the fuses on the depth charges before they were hurled over the side. None of these heroics made him any nicer a person, but don't you think a man like that, having done all that, deserved just a little something back when he needed it most?
If I was chosen as the instrument to bring a little care into his final years, then ... I'm glad.
And for sharing this true beautiful story with us, god bless.
Congrats on what you did :)