Being There

The story below touched me on multiple levels and I am grateful to Forever Awezome for posting it. I don’t know whether this story is true or not. I WANT it to be true, and believe that so many kindnesses occur every day that even if this particular story isn’t true, it is very likely that something similar has happened somewhere–and may even be happening as I type this post.


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….”

About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 4 young grandsons. I manage a wealth management firm I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of 23 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and enjoying our small redwood grove and fern garden.
This entry was posted in Choices, Commitment, Compassion, Connection/Connecting, Duty, Goodness, Heroes, Making the World a Better Place, My Beliefs, Stories That Touched Me and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Being There

  1. Now that is a bloody touching story true or not isn’t important

  2. russtowne says:

    Thank you for your comment, Joanne.

  3. bulldog says:

    Damn now my hair is standing on edge…

  4. gita4elamats says:

    What a beautiful story, made me cry! 🙂

  5. utesmile says:

    This brought tears to me…. lovely and sad but still wonderful!

  6. mimijk says:

    Gave me chills..

  7. Wow, Russ, I’m with Mimi. That one sent chills up and down my spine….

  8. Oh my, I had to get tissues…it was a human being an angel…

    • russtowne says:

      Sometimes people do things that are so off-the-charts wonderful that I’m awestruck. In this case, either the Marine did, or the writer, or both.

  9. tersiaburger says:

    This is so touching. I started a Hospice in honour of my daughter who died in January 2013 and this post – true or not, really struck a cord. Thank you for sharing!

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you for your kind comment, and for the touching comments you made about my site on Dr. Bill Wooten’s blog. I appreciate your kindness and generosity. May your hospice long provide much comfort to many who are facing death and to their friends and loved ones. And may you always feel welcome here at my site. It is my wish that at least some of my posts help or provide some comfort to those who are attempting to bear what feels unbearable, and who are struggling to find the will and energy to take the next breath when it feels impossible to breathe. May you know that you and your feelings are welcome and safe here.


  10. Lady Lovely says:

    Russ, your posts today are making tearful, but of the good kind. Thank you for sharing these loving, kindhearted stories.

  11. kmabarrett says:

    Great story Russ. You realize you keep setting the bar higher and higher…

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Kevin. If the level of enjoyment by readers is a guide by which to judge how high a bar is set, then based on how much I enjoy your blog, you have already set a very high bar.

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