His nurse and I watch from the hospital corridor’s call station as my husband and son walk side by side down the hallway. Son guiding post-surgical father in slow steps up and down the laminate aisle, bending his head down from his 6-foot height to his Dad’s 5’7” stooped body to whisper encouragement into the older man’s “good” ear. Their backs to us, the pair is unaware of our observation.
“Will you look at that, lady? They have the exact same walk—they even have the same little bounce!”
Both men threw out their right foot in the same way, bending their knees in tandem with each footfall. It was amusing and uncanny at the same time. I had noticed this before through the years anytime they walked together: across a ball field, in a grocery store, on vacation along a boardwalk.
In an instant, my mind flashes back to another scene. Our son was a toddler, trailing behind his daddy on a Lake Michigan beach. They had just finished making an intricate sandcastle on the shore. I remember laughing at our little boy’s attempt to place his pudgy bare feet into each gigantic footprint before him.
“I wonder if we do as good a job following in Your footsteps, Lord,” a passing thought interrupting my reverie that I put on the front burner of my ‘to think about list.’
“How time flies,” I blink back to the present as the two grown men in my life wave to us as they pass by for another lap of the ward’s hallway; one tall, slender, and young and the other, faithfully plodding along for the prescribed exercise, carefully placing each skid-resistant socked foot in front of the other, I.V. pole squeaking along beside him.
The nurse rushes to answer a call button, while I stand, remembering.
My husband’s leukemia diagnosis and chemotherapy infusions, the needles, the x-rays, CAT scans, MRI’s, the subsequent scare when all his blood counts plummeted, the iron infusions, the infections. And now, after six years in remission, a new, secondary cancer is attacking his weakened system, Stage III-C, the oncologist said, and surgery a must. Following this, an oral chemo drug will be required that will, hopefully, increase his chances of a longer life.
And at each crisis point, our son has been at his father’s side, changing his own higher education schedule or job vacation plans to be present—which now involves a four-hour drive with wife and baby in tow. Teary-eyed now, I turn away and thank God for showing us the miracle of His unfailing faithfulness to us through the example of our son.
The clock hands back up again as I ponder the past, disturbing the cobwebs of memories of long ago: our little boy growing into an adolescent, a teenager, an upstanding student and model of Christian-backed integrity, dependability, and deep faith.
I wonder anew, if his employer appreciates his strong work-ethic, a replica of the perfectionism of my husband’s job performance and perfect attendance before he retired.
“He is still following his daddy’s example,” I think, also remembering my sweetheart's care of his own father, now in a nursing home an hour distant, my husband visiting his dad several times a week; unless, like now, his own health forbids it. I recall how our son had his dad’s support and love and self there for him as he grew and developed from child to youth to adult to husband.
“His Dad was always there for him, and now he is reciprocating,” I muse.
“A chip off the old block,” OR, “The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree,” friends have commented as our son takes on more responsibility in the church or in other activities that require a servant’s heart.
My daughter-in-law cannot believe how alike the two men are with their teasing and humor and mannerisms and some behaviors.
“Well, now I know where THAT came from,” her occasional remark over something mildly irksome or cute that her husband does.
Father and son having now completed the three laps, they enter the assigned room where I am now waiting for them, one ambling ahead to straighten the bedding and the other shuffling, snail-like, behind him.
Sitting in this hospital room gives me more time to think about what is really important in life.
“Am I following Jesus’ example of sacrificial love?” the question hangs in the antiseptic air as the work-worn nurse enters the room.
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