How is it like to be sick for 38 years, and bedridden?
“Beside the pool was a man who had been sick for 38 years. When Jesus saw the man and realized that he had been crippled for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:5-6)
I would like to share a story about my father. He has been suffering for years. His kind of pain is not exactly physical ailment. He has 4 children. All of whom are not on talking terms with him.
Which is worse? To be bedridden for 38 years or being separated from your own children for 38 years? I try to put myself in my dad’s shoes. Imagine the isolation and loneliness, especially during Christmas or Chinese New Year. No footsteps of your own children coming home. Familiar laughter of children is frequently heard, but the sound of merriment is from house next door – not from his own grandkids. There is little life in my dad’s house. Home alone for Christmas or Chinese New Year. That fits the description of my father perfectly.
I went to Father School several years ago. I was encouraged to reconnect with my father. I did not have a good relationship with him. For years I was not home. In fact, I just wanted to stay as far away as possible. With encouragement from my lecturer, I wrote a letter to my dad. I expressed my thoughts, my feelings, my misgivings for not calling him ‘dad’ for years. I felt like a failure as a son.
“I am sorry, dad.”
When my father received the letter, he called me immediately and both of us cried and cried on the phone.
I decided to visit him. I brought him to church and he became a Christian on his first visit to church. Now he calls me frequently. After talking to me, he would speak to my wife and my children.
I remember there is a Bible verse that says
“…he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:6)
Is this true? Is this really happening to me? When I, as a son turns my heart towards my father, my dad would reciprocate and turn his heart towards me?
He must have waited for my footsteps for years. Only the letter arrived. That changed everything.
My dad is now 83 and he suffers from kidney failure. He has dialysis 3 times a week. Whenever he is having his dialysis, he would call me and we talk. We live hundreds of miles apart. I guess by talking to me, it relieved the pain of the dialysis. Perhaps, the joy of talking to his youngest son will make him forget the pain. Maybe, he just wants to hear the voice of his own child.
Now he is waiting for the footsteps of his other children. Will they come home?
“’…every man has his secret sorrows
which the world knows not —
and often times we call a man cold,
when he is only sad.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Does that sound like only my dad? It described my state as a son before I reconciled with him.
Would you hug your loved ones during this festive season? Would you hug your dad?