It wasn’t uncommon for Dad to not be home this late at night. Being an eye doctor, he was frequently called to the hospital for emergencies. After getting home from the movies with a few friends, I walked in to the kitchen to see why the light was on so late at night. My Mom greeted me as she was busy preparing sandwiches and tea. Dad loved Mom’s cooking, so I knew I made it right in time to jump back in the car to deliver his late night dinner. After closer inspection, I saw that she was making two sandwiches. He must have really been hungry! She explained that he had been at the hospital since the early morning operating on a young boy with a serious eye injury.
After Mom finished assembling the sandwiches, I packed his dinner and drove to the hospital. I liked visiting him at the hospital and being surrounded by the excitement and commotion. At this time of night, the hospital was quiet and barely any activity was happening. As I walked by the cafeteria, the sign reminded me they stopped serving food hours ago. I hurried on to the elevator and pushed the button to the “OR”. Right as the elevator doors opened, I saw my Dad sitting with family members of the young boy in the waiting area. He gently held the hand of the boy’s mother while handing her a tissue. She tried her best to muffle her sobs. My Dad was also looking empathetically at the boy’s father who kept re-telling how the accident occurred the previous night.
Although Dad was able to mask his exhaustion from the parents, I knew him long enough to know that he was beyond tired and hungry. As I approached him and the couple, he smiled excitedly to introduce me. As with any other patient I meet, they kindly greeted me and told me how much they admire and respect my Dad. I can honestly say that it never gets old hearing stories of how he saved someone’s eyesight or providing gentle care for a loved one. It was close to one in the morning, and I couldn’t believe how Dad could be functioning without food or rest.
After handing him the packed meal, he quickly opened it and took out the contents. Without hesitation, he turned to the couple and handed them each a sandwich. Right at that moment, I knew I didn’t even have to ask; those sandwiches were never for him. When he called Mom to ask for them to be made, he knew they would be hungry. Just as he had spent the whole night there for the young boy, he knew the experience was even more traumatic for the parents. He always thought of others before himself.
After they graciously accepted the food, they sat down to eat. I knew my job was done. As I walked back towards the elevators, I could hear my Dad reassure them their son would be fine. The gentleness in his voice provided a soothing relief to them as they continued to thank him for his service and support.
To this day, I can still vividly see visual images from that night. As a parent now, I can feel the heartfelt emotion that couple must have endured feeling helpless and numb. I can also feel the same pride I have for my Dad today to not only strive to be the best in his profession, but also his constant compassion and sacrifice. This memory serves as my reminder to always focus on building relationships – there is nothing greater than helping others. Thank you for being there for others and for me, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!