Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Hospital Window

I have spent a lot of time in the past few weeks looking back. I am sure it is something we all do as we approach some of the big markers in life as I am about to. Yesterday as I walked I thought how lucky I was at my age to be able to enjoy so much of the beauty around me. Over the years I have met many people who have not been so blessed. All of those people who only saw life through a window of the hospital. Yet so many of them left me feeling uplifted and strengthened.

The young lady dying of cancer who likened herself to the leaf on the autumn tree clinging on to life for as long as she could, so wanting to celebrate her son going to school for the first time. She managed it and what a day it was. I was so privileged to share part of it with her. I wrote a poem for her and her husband asked if he could have it to give to his son.

Strength in adversity, thinking of others in the face of difficulty. Amazing people. Reminds me of the two men together in the side ward of the hospital.

They were both seriously ill. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for them to wash and shave only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.

He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Is this not what we artists try to do all the time to portray to others the world we see and sometimes the world as we would like it to be.

This is the way of Tao.The Crashing Waves


  1. Touching story. Yes I have to agree. Artists do just that...

  2. I need to work on being more like the man by the window. Think I am losing my vision and my positive attitude. Thanks for the story. Have to work on reviving the 'spirit' of the moment in my paintings and in living.

  3. Poignant words, Ralph. I hope you embrace your coming milestone!

  4. Very moving story Ralph - I'm glad I checked in to your blog this morning!

  5. Good Morning Ralph, I am without speech and with tears. It is all good though!

  6. Yes! Exactly. Your blog has a beautiful view.

  7. Beautiful story and an inspiring message!