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The most selfless act of kindness costs nothing.

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened.

Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.

The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused.

Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.

Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.

Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her, “Who was that man?” he asked.

The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered.

“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”

“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”

“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed. I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey. His Son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this Gentleman’s Name? “

The nurse with tears in her eyes answered, “Mr. William Grey………”

The next time someone needs you … just be there.


Dear John: Loved your little story about how you bought an old dear in the supermarket some flowers. it moved me dearly and I wanted to share with you my story of Margaret - an old lady who fell in the street and no one came to her assistance. I was there straight away and while she was okay physically, it shook her up.

( This is not her, just a stock picture )

I stayed with her and someone from a shop came and brought a chair out for her and she had also called an ambulance and while we waited, I stayed with her chatting about her life and her husband who had recently died after 45 years of marriage and it turned out she was all alone and lived local to me. I went with her to the hospital and after a couple of hours they released her - and no idea how the hospital expected an 80 plus year old women to get home, they were as cold as ice and not interested, so as I was still there, I arranged a taxi for us both and escorted her home.

I invited her to a Sunday roast the next week, and the look of puzzlement on her face - wondering - I suppose - what the catch was, and anyway to cut it short John, she comes every Sunday to lunch at my house and my partner and I fuss around her and she just loves it and she tells us how it is the highlight of her week and the best meal she has all week. It seems her son was killed in a car crash some years before and her daughter married and moved to New Zealand with her husband and she only sees them these days on Skype, which I set up for her at my place and they talk every Sunday.

Her smiles and the joy on her face each week is reward enough.



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