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16 October 2014

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By Judie Coull
July 2006,
A digital story from Sarah's stories

"We sat around on my father's bed with champagne glasses in hand, our hearts joined in celebration, but at the same time in loss and grief.

Some weeks earlier, in the stiflingly hot hospital, each waning patient gasping for any air wafting from the valiant fans on their bedside cabinets, my father lay prostrate as I'd never seen him before, helpless, vulnerable, and uninterested in anything around him.

After days of massaging him back to life - hands and arms the first session; he presented his feet and legs the next; back and head when he was stronger; that sergeant major of a man who I'd never seen show any tender or caring moment, begged me to help the blind man across the aisle in his vain attempts to find his water bottle. In those last days, his sternness and command cracked, to reveal thoughts of compassion and concern for another's easement and welfare.

Why hadn't I seen this before? Seen though all the self control and strong opinions?

Later, as he lay dying at home with his family around him, such a presence attended and graced the scene. And I realised he'd won a huge amount of honour, and being such a self decisive man, there was no mistaking that he'd lived by what he believed in.

The compassion for him in not being able to express his vulnerability was a healing between us as he left, and I knew he could now see me for what and who I was. Not what he thought I was.

Glasses in hand, we toasted his life and told stories of special moments we all had with him - funny, sad, difficult, warming.

I'm so glad now, that I know he was much more than I thought he was."

Judie Coull

Your comments

"What a very honest and intimate sharing of ones of lifes most tender times. And makes one reflect too on how easy to judge another from the surface rather than go deeper." Christine Thompson

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