He stood there, transfixed, still letting the words sink in. “We’ve done all that we could,” said the doctor, “It would be best for him to spend his last few days at home, surrounded by family.”
How could they just give up like that? Wasn’t it their job to ensure that everything was taken care of?
He argued with the doctor, fought with him, even begged him to do something, but realized that he was just trying to fight the inevitable. It was just an aberration that things had to come down to this- but then again, if one had the ability to see tomorrow, wouldn’t today be just an exercise in futility?
He tried to focus on the task at hand. He washed his face and took a quick estimate of things around him. He was at the hospital and the doctor had just told him that they had done their best for his father. He went up to his father’s room and saw him, with tubes going in and out of his body. He seemed so calm, so composed, like he was at terms with things around him. Like every child, his father was his superhero – the one who could handle anything. To see him like this shook his faith in everything he always believed in. Things between them had not always been the best, but he was always someone he looked up to.
His father wasn’t the kinds who believed in really showing how he felt. He believed in being a man’s man- He was raised that way and that’s how he wanted to stay. He was a little old school with his methods but that had always been something that he had been proud of.
He remembered how his father was the only one who would never turn up at the meetings in school or at gatherings. He remembered how his friends’ fathers would so eagerly arrive for such things and clap the hardest and tell their children how much they loved them.
He walked around the hospital, trying to calm his nerves but today nothing seemed to be working. He decided to go out and light a cigarette – not something his father would have approved of, but today, he just wanted to let it out. He lit one and instantly felt relaxed. His mind was thrown back to the days when he tried his first cigarette at the corner of the street, with the guys. It was more of an initiation into the group and he finally felt that he belonged. His father saw him, snatched the cigarette from his hands and slapped him in front of everyone else. He had never felt such anger for his father before.
Life went on. He graduated, got a job, found a girl, got married and had children of his own. He pledged to himself that he would always do the right thing with his own children. He would always be there for them and show them that no
matter what, he’d take care of it.
He heard his name being announced on the speaker. It was time to take him home. He helped his father down and helped him sit comfortably in the back seat of the car. He drove slowly, every now and then, checking on his father to see if he was okay. Theirs was not really the most perfect of relationships but they had managed to see the worst of days through. He might not have been the ideal father but he had done what he could do, to the best of his abilities. Perfection is what all of us aim for, but it is the tiny imperfections that make a relationship unique and the ability to deal with them makes it special.
He realized that in spite of all the times he had felt let down by his father, he had still managed to be involved in every aspect of his life. His father might not have been comfortable expressing things, but he did always manage to stay in the background, unceasingly mixing in, making a difference in his own little way.
His thoughts drifted from one place to another- a collage of images from his childhood till this very date flashed before his eyes, and he found himself smiling, along with tears flowing. He felt drained by this surge of emotions, almost overpowered. Time seemed to be rushing and he wanted to make the most of what was left. He wanted to make every second count, know his father as the person he was and tell him how much he valued his love.
They reached home and he helped his father get out of the car. As his father slowly walked past, he went back into the car to pick up a few papers, when he saw the image of his father in the rear-view mirror, slowly walking towards the house.
On the mirror was simply written – ‘Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.’
It seemed so fitting and apt that he had to take a moment to collect himself. When he was able to, he just smiled and thanked God for all the incredible gifts he had been bestowed with – the most marvelous of them being his father.