by Stan Cascino
I was in the hospital having treatment following a motorcycle accident. In the bed next to me was a man named David. He was having treatment for leg problems, like myself. However, David had been partly strangled by his mother’s umbilical cord at birth and suffered terrible brain damage. He couldn’t talk, could barely see, could hear little, and could only express himself in grunts.
Promptly at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, David’s elder brother Ron appeared. The patients were mostly awake, taking medication, but the nurses had been unable to get David to take his medication and were getting perhaps a little bit exasperated.
On arriving, Ron, in his middle fifties, took David’s hand and put it up to his own face to allow David to touch him and to recognise him. David calmed down straight away and allowed his brother to clean, dress him, and as breakfast arrived, to feed him.
After breakfast, Ron cleaned David up again, found a spare wheelchair and took him for a 90-minute walk. After settling David in his chair, Ron handed him some magazines, not to read, but just to hold, which pleased David.
Several hours later, a younger man arrived with his wife. They greeted Ron, the young man’s father, then greeted David by touching his hand to their faces. David recognised them both, and Ron then went to eat. Ron returned an hour later, the young people left, and Ron stayed, taking his brother to the toilet, cleaning, feeding and connecting with him, until 8:00 p.m. Ron then put David to bed for the night.
Ron returned at 8:00 the next morning. This went on for nearly two weeks until David was well enough to go home.
Naturally, I got to talking to Ron and gradually heard his story. Ron was eight years old when David was born and, right from the start, his mother and father instilled the values that would be his the rest of his life. They loved both boys very much, and looked after David for as long as they could.
When their parents could no longer manage, the now grown-up andmarried Ron took David into his home to look after him. Ron’s children used to take their uncle out in a wheelchair, defending him from other kids who mocked him.
Many years later, David needed nursing home care. Ron found one which cares for David well, near where he lives, so the family can visit daily.
When David came into hospital, Ron knew he would be totally disorientated and extremely distressed. Hence Ron’s daily 12-hour visits — for which he took time off work. I felt totally humbled by Ron’s selflessness, and his love for his brother, which love was mirrored in his own children.
When Ron came to take David back home, I asked him to shake my hand, and I told him that I was proud to do so.