A man walked into the clinic today, he was well worn, and his gnarly hands handed over his blood request form. There were a few other patients waiting to be processed, and I would glance over to him on occasion as I do with all our patients making sure they are processed in turn.
I called this old gentleman to my room, and started the protocols of checking his DOB, his name, we both signed the labels that would eventually travel to the lab. I looked at his date of birth - it was the same year as my dads was - he would turn 94 next month.
After the paperwork was finalised, I asked him how he was going.
He leaned back, with a tired sigh.
His face filled with emotion - 'Im slowly dying' he said.
I replied 'oh dont say that'
He said 'I lost my wife in 2008, and I just dont seem to be able to do anything. We were married for 65 years.....its really lonely, and I dont get out much anymore'
I was very saddened by his pain. Here was a man, a real man sitting infront of me, having seen nearly a century of life, and he was just wanting to go. He was still very agile, the movement of a 70 year old really.
'Im so very sorry to hear that, I bet you've seen so much in your life.'
He said 'oh Ive seen snippets here and there, I went to World War II, fought up in New Guinea, and the likes.'
'We dont realise how lucky we are today, we dont realise what could have been' I replied.
'Well, if the enemy had gotten through, it would certainly be a different country to today. Instead of freedom, most of us would be dying as slaves' he said. 'most people today dont seem to realise that.'
I said to him 'do you have somewhere you can go for a hobby, or a church group to see every week?'
He said 'not really, there's a few religous people that make the rounds, but Im not much into that anymore... Im presbyterian you see, I get out to do a few errands at the shops, and come here for my tests, but thats about it really, I do a bit of reading at home.'
I wish I could have kept talking to him, and somehow befriended this kind old gentleman. But work had to keep going, and the wheels of life had to keep turning. But he stuck in my mind all day, I wish I could do more. Life gets in the way of caring for each other too much now.
I hope he goes in a quiet dignified way, that he deserves. Thanks old man, for defending our country, for standing up for right, for being a good person in our community. I hope to see you again...