May 13, 2011

father & son

(I posted this one earlier but for some reason it disappeared.  Here it is again.)

About 30 minutes before midnight, my nephew peaks his head into his dad's room.  He wants to say goodnight to his 'dad-o' but my brother is already sawing logs.  His mom tries to coax him in but he starts to back out.  Now at this moment, I could as a writer ascribe all sorts of emotions and thoughts to my nephew.  Some may be accurate, some not.  The only tools with which I have at my disposal are my imagination and my intuition, not an absolute record of hard facts.  So instead of me writing what I think, ask yourself, what would you feel if you were a 14-year old boy wanting to be close to your ailing dad?  The conflicting emotions of wanting to be close but the apprehension of how to do it.  Is your dad in pain?  Would his heart be lifted at seeing your concern?  Would it hurt to touch him?  Would he be angry if you were to wake him up?  Use your imagination.

As my nephew starts to shift away, I call his name using my deep quarterback voice.  He stops and comes back and I look him in the eye.  "How do you want to say goodnight to your dad?"

He shrugs his shoulders sheepishly.  His Grammy (my mom) demonstrates by gently touching her son's foot.

"Go in and grab your dad's hand."  He does and the moment he touches his dad, time stops.  All those questions I raised before exist simultaneously within the space of the smallish room.......My brother opens his eyes, recognizes his firstborn and only son, and gives him their special handshake.  My nephew then leans in for a hug and my brother receives him openly with a gentle but impassioned embrace.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This has made me cry at work, with fat, hot tears of humility and hurt and overwhelming gratitude for life. Thank you. I discovered your blog through the AC grapevine, and I just can't leave without saying thanks for recording a small moment of such humanity... I don't know Josh but I know Anna, and I've believed since she married him that your brother must be a person of exceptional worth and character, or the girl I knew would not have said yes. ;) So many prayers surround your family just now. I add mine to the cloud of witnesses. Sending love and peace and strength to Anna, especially... --Ginger Barry Brandt

Anonymous said...

Isaac, when my brother was dying at Methodist Hospital in the Med Center, his son spent the last night sleeping in the bed with him. He was on life support, and some of us consider that he was already gone at the time, but it meant alot to his 13 yr old son, and the staff was kind enough to allow it. I'm glad you encouraged your nephew to say goodnight, those are things he will remember down the road.

jgross said...

Amazing. Thank you.