A phone call to a daughter (A short story)
It was a cold January evening. The environment in the hospital was like the silence before a cyclone. As a nurse, I stood in the nurses’ station on the 7th floor and looked at the clock. It was 9:00 P.M.
I went to room 712, the last room of the hall. Room 712 had a new patient, Mr Williams. I entered the room. Mr Williams looked up eagerly but dropped his eyes.
I pressed the stethoscope on his chest and listened. I understand that a few hours earlier he had suffered a slight heart attack.
From his bed, he looked up. ” Nurse, please can you… ” he hesitated, his eyes filled with tears. He began asking me a question again, but he changed his mind. I touched his hand.
He wiped a tear. “Can you please call my daughter? Tell her I have had a heart attack. I am living alone and she is the only family I have.”
His breathing suddenly increased. I increased his nasal oxygen up to eight litres a minute. Studying his face, I said “sure. I will call her,”.
He pulled himself forward and requested me “Will you call her right now — as soon as you can?”. He was breathing fast — too fast.
I said “I will call her immediately. Now you can take rest.”
I switched off the light. He closed his eyes. Room 712 was dark.
I sat beside the window. I was enjoying the foggy silent night. I shivered. He called me “Nurse. Can you get me a pencil and paper?” I took a yellow paper and a pen from my pocket and gave him.
“Thank you,” he said. I smiled at him and left.
I walked back to the nurses’ station and sat in a chair by the phone. The name of Mr Williams’ daughter was written on his chart as the next relative. I got her number from the information centre and dialled. I told her “Dear Janie, I’m a nurse at the hospital. Your father was admitted today with a slight heart attack and… “
“No!” Janie screamed into the phone “He is not dying. Is he?” It was a painful question.
I said, “His condition is good at the moment”.
She requested with a cry “You must not let him die”.
Her voice made my hand shivered on the phone. “Dear Janie, don’t worry. He is getting the very best treatment.”
Janie requested “But you do not understand. My daddy and I have not talked for a year. We had a terrible argument on my birthday about my boyfriend. I left the house. I ran away with my boyfriend. I . . . I have not been back. All these months I have wanted to go to him for forgiveness. The last thing important I told him was, “You are bad. I hate you.'”
I heard a great sad cry. A father and daughter so missed each other. At that time I was thinking of my own father, many miles away. It had been so long since I had said I love you.
Janie said “I am coming, now! I will be there in 30 minutes.” She cut off the call.
I became busy with my work. But I knew I had to go back to room 712. I went there and opened the door. Mr Williams was silent. I reached for his pulse. There was none.
Mr Williams got a heart attack. I put my hands on his chest and started pressing. One, two, three. I tried to count. At 15, I moved back to his mouth and breathed as deeply as I could.
“Oh no,” I pleaded. “Breathe, breathe.” The door opened. Doctors and nurses poured into the room, pushing emergency equipment. Anxiously I said “Please, don’t let him die. His daughter is coming. Let her find peace.”
Everyone tried a lot. Mr Williams died. A nurse unplugged the oxygen. One by one left the room silently. I thought “How can I face his daughter?”
When I left the room, I saw Janie in the waiting room. I took her hand and led her to the nurses’ lounge.
I said, “Janie, I’m so sorry.”
She said “I never hated him, you know. I loved him”. Suddenly she told me. “I want to see him.”
I got up and wrapped my hand around her, opened the door and reached her father’s bed. Janie reached her father and understood he is dead. She kept her head on her father’s chest and started crying. Then I saw a yellow paper on the bed.
I picked it up. It read: “My dearest Janie, I know we were not so close near at the end. We both may have said some things we regret. But I forgive you. I pray you will also forgive me. I know that you love me. I love you, too. Your Daddy.”
The note was shaking in my hands. I pushed it toward Janie. She read it once. Then twice. She hugged the paper to her breast. I could not wait even a second. I went to my room and hurried to the phone. I called my own father. I said “Dad, I love you. You are important to me”.
Slight (adjective) = very small
Nasal (adjective) = connected with the nose
Foggy (adjective) = not clear because of fog
Scream (verb) = shout loudly
Plead (verb) = request someone seriously
Lounge (noun) = waiting room
Hurry (verb) = move quickly in a particular direction
Hesitate (verb) = slow to speak or act because you feel uncertain or nervous
Wipe (verb) = remove dirt, liquid, etc. by using cloth, your hand etc
Shiver (verb) = shake because you are cold, afraid, excited, etc
Wrap (verb) = cover something completely in paper or other material