The last time I saw him he was dozing in a chair by the window. His face, once bronzed by the sun was now hollow and pale. Tiptoeing quietly across the room I planted a kiss on the top of his head and hugged his neck.
Opening his eyes he looked up at me with a big grin. I sensed from his smile that my face was familiar, but he'd forgotten my name.
Sitting down on the edge of the bed near his chair, we chatted; mostly small talk. The ravages of Alzheimers make for a difficult and one-sided conversation.
"Do you remember living in Miami?" I asked.
"I remember having some little yellow ducks in a big pond when I was a kid, but I don't really recall...ah, what did you say your name was again?"
....and so it went. Time passed swiftly. However, with a 350 Mile trip back home for me and a much needed snooze for him...we finally called it a day.
We said our Good-Bys, I kissed his cheek and before I even left the room, he was dozing again. His hands, once so strong and skillful were now thin and frail; and on his feet were slippers with his name printed in large, black, bold letters - "Dr.Chapin".
Weeping bitterly, I tiptoed out of the room.
Fifty three years ago he had held me upside down by my feet, gave my bare backside a sharp swat with his hand to make me cry, gasp for air, and take my very first breath of life!
Three years later, he traveled into the far regions of South Africa to be a medical missionary in a leper colony. While at Malamoola Mission, his duties consisted of healing and treating lepers; but he also taught them the Good News about Jesus and their Savior that had come down to earth to save them from their sins.
His career as a Missionary was cut short, however, when he got malaria fever and had to return home.
Then came WWII, when Dr. Chapin became "Colonel Chapin". Still healing, patching up and saving lives - but this time in Military Hospitals. He became known as the "praying doctor", as he never started surgery until first asking all those present, (nurses, assistants and patient alike) if they would bow their heads as he asked for wisdom from above to guide his hand as he operated. (Something that would be unheard of today, due to anti-religious and separation of Church and State Laws)
Such a brilliant doctor, such a devoted Christian, and such a dedicated man to saving Lives and Souls...and yet in his own final days, he didn't even know his own name! They had to print his name on his slippers.
This wonderful man was not only a missionary doctor, Colonel in the Navy, and a Christian...but was the first to touch me, hold me, spank me, teach me and bring me up to be a person of faith, and even though on my last visit he had forgotten my name, I knew he loved me...for you see, Dr. Chapin was also my father.
I miss you Daddy, and may you Rest in Peace.
Footnote: True story. I learned to walk on the deck of a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and my first years were spent in S. Africa...
Explanation of My Birth: Physicians are not allowed by law to deliver, operate or minister to their own family members medically - but my mother's doctor was at the Theatre when I was born - so my father had no other choice but to deliver me.
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