The dying man’s last wish was to see his son who was in the Marines serving in Iraq. Then one evening a tired and anxious Marine walks up to the man's hospital nurse. Her heart leaps because, finally, the son, her dying elderly patient had been yearning to see,  had been able to return from Iraq just in time for his father's last words. Excitedly, she escorts the man to her patient's room. “Your son is here” the nurse says to the man. She had to repeat the words several times before
MaRINE (2)his eyes opened. He was heavily sedated and only partially conscious. The old man smiled and reached out his hand. The Marine put his fingers around the limp hand and squeezed gently. 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. But 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 and 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 said to her  “Who was that man?” he asked.

The nurse was startled. “He was your father,” she answered.

“No,,” the Marine replied. “The truth is 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 reason I came here was to see a Mr. William Grey. I was sent to inform him his son was killed in Iraq today. So, who was this gentleman?”

With tears in her eyes, the nurse answered, “Mr. William Grey…”

A priest friend, Lita and I know, sent us this story. Even though it is fictional it conveys such an inspirational message I thought it would be a relief from Corona Virus worries. The original story was titled "Night Watch" and written in 1964 by Roy Popkin. It as featured in the Reader's Digest and since then has been repeated numerous times as well as frequently on the internet. it should remind us about the need for compassion and concern for other people in this time of argument and political name calling. Remember the story the next time you have an opportunity of extending a kindness to someone else.

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