This is the image I’ve seen twice a day for almost three weeks straight now …
The intensive care unit opens for visitations twice a day, for half an hour each time. As I’ve previously mentioned, the experience reminds me of a cattle call. Visiting time nears, and a small crowd gathers outside the sliding metal doors. When the doors open, the crowd rushes in.
Invariably, my dad is first in line. Twice a day for almost three weeks now, he gets to the hospital well before visiting time starts. He plants himself just outside the entrance to the ICU. And then he stands there silently.
When the doors finally open, he marches in and scrubs up. He isn’t aggressive or rude to any of the other visitors, but he definitely makes it clear that he intends to be the first inside the ICU.
For as long as I can remember, my parents have always had … well, let’s just call it a pragmatic marriage. I never had any doubt that they loved each other. But then again, their way of showing their love was to fulfill their respective family role to the best of their abilities — my father the breadwinner, and my mother the caregiver.
Now, the role of caregiver has fallen on my dad. And more than anything else, this image that I’ve seen twice a day for almost three weeks now touches me deeply.
He doesn’t have to say it. He doesn’t have to show it emotionally. Just seeing him standing there, stoic, waiting, one day after another, tells me everything I need to know about his love for my mom.