Saturday, April 01, 2006

Tribute to Uncle George

Love begins when we grow old

The Penang Diocese Lenten theme for this year is “Touch a life”. I was contemplating how I was going to touch a life when I received an inspiring letter from an elderly gentleman, whom we used to fondly call Uncle George since we were kids. As a young man, in the sixties, he was an active member of Parish of St.Joseph, Batu Gajah, Perak.

His greatest gift was his perpetual cheerfulness. As a matter of fact we have never seen him angry or sad. Because of this gift of his he was well liked by all, especially the children.

As school children we used to accompany him to visit the sick in hospital and also visit the SVDP adoptee in their homes. In fact it was this hospital visits with him in a way inspired me to take up medicine as a career.

He now lives alone with his wife, both in their eighties, and spends all his time taking care of her, who is now handicapped due to an accident. He still cycles out to town several times a day to get food for himself and his wife.

On a recent trip back home I happened to meet Uncle George after many years and all I did was to buy him a simple breakfast costing just RM2.20, and chatted with him.

A week later I was surprised to receive a letter from him praising me and my wife with such fantastic words, praises that we don’t really deserve. The following paragraph in his letter really touched me and my wife. I quote,

“This year I am 86 and my wife is 82.If we can live till 28.12.06 we will be married for 60 years and we can live to celebrate our diamond jubilee. Yes, you know doctor true love begins when we grow old; I think I love my wife more than I first met her. But soon we will have to part”.

A mere two ringgit, few encouraging words and the willingness to listen was all that was needed to touch a life in the form of Uncle George. In return his invaluable experience of “TRUE LOVE” managed to touch us deeply.

This reinforces my fervent belief that there are still lot of good things in life that cannot be obtained with money and power and that, is the greatest gift of God to us.

All couples intending to get married, those having marital problems and want to rejuvenate the fading love in marriage should make a visit to Uncle George and his wife and I’m sure they will be able to touch you as well.

Dr.Chris Anthony

1 comment:

David said...

Dear Dr. Chris,

Several days ago I did a google on the topic of “Uncle George” and “washing feet,” and I found your blog with entries on those two topics. I thought you might be interested in my Uncle George who passed away two weeks today. He was a person whose outlook on life and his love for his wife, family and humanity might remind you of your own “Uncle George.”

But here is the strange part of the story we call “our lives.”

It was two months ago when I learned that my Uncle George, age 82 I believe, had been diagnosed as having untreatable lung cancer and was now under hospice care. We talked briefly on the phone, and I told him I would fly out soon. Unfortunately, when I was about to get my airline ticket a few weeks later, I learned that Uncle George presumably had only hours to live. So I postponed the trip, expecting now only to attend a funeral service instead.

About two weeks passed and still no word on any funeral service. Then came an email from the son of Uncle George with the news that my uncle was still alive, struggling and in terrible shape, but alive. Within hours of that news I bought my plane ticket, and two days later was by the side of my Uncle, holding his hand and talking with him though he could not acknowledge my presence or words---at least, not in any normal way.

Uncle George’s daughter told me how surprised the whole family was that he could still be hanging onto life. The doctor had told them that he must have some business that he still needs to complete before he could die. At the time I did not give much significance to those words.

That night I had a most unusual dream. I was washing my Uncle George’s feet. In the dream he was alive and well, quite the opposite of his current state, basically a drug-induced coma of sorts. Why I had that dream, I had no clue. I vaguely recalled there being some reference in the Bible to Christ either washing the feet of the Apostles or having his feet washing, but more amazing was why I had that dream. And then on Sunday at noon, I think I learned the answer.

When I entered the house at noon and saw the family in tears, I was told that my Uncle George had passed away at 11:05 a.m. Within the next hour or so, I asked my cousin whether there would be any religious service for him, since as I remembered he did not attend any Church or perhaps even believe in organized religion. My cousin replied that a month or two ago a friend came to visit Uncle George, and while visiting she asked him whether he wanted to accept Christ into his life. His response was: “How do I do that?”

Well, the rest is history as they say. A minister (perhaps a priest, I don’t know) came over and Uncle George accepted Christ. And in his waiting for my visit, Uncle George accepted me before his rebirth. Perhaps that was the unfinished business that he now had completed. And so it was an honor and a sign that I was able to wash his feet.