My father passed away 1-1/2 months ago at the age of 92. Today, I visited his 93 year old dear friend, Dr. Go, who has been bedridden for the past 7 years.His son was my dad’s godson. Dr. Go was our family doctor. Papa was proud of his friendship with the good doctor. He often told people he had free consultations with Dr. Go for his family. He also regularly visited his friend at his clinic in the hospital. These two friends lost touch after each one retired and eventually got too old and frail to visit each other.
I have mixed feelings seeing Dr. Go on his sick bed. On one hand, it is good to see his pinkish round face, his arms not bony. It is good to see him sleeping peacefully. On the other hand, it is sad to see the tube in his nose for feeding and the one in his throat to help him breath. But what do I say to him? His eyes closed and his mouth opened, he just had a short waken moment. He didn’t see me. I don’t know if he still remembers my dad or even remembers me. Was he even aware I was there? What can I say to comfort him?
So I sang a song: my favourite hymn, a hymn which brings me much comfort. I often sing this song when I need encouragement. When I am afraid, when I feel sad, when I worry, this song affirms and assures me.
Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.
Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand.
I sang this hymn with Carl, my father’s godson, by the bedside of Dr. Go, my father’s dear friend, with his wife, humming along. Then I prayed for Dr. Go and his family. He had his eyes closed. He could not respond to me. I do not know if he heard our singing. I am not sure if he heard my prayer. But somehow I am comforted with the knowledge that God knows. God knows his sick child. God is by his bedside. God is with him in his heart. One day, he will put on a glorious body, the resurrected body. On that day, there will be no more pain, no more sickness, no more NGT, no more tubes, no more oxygen tank and no need of caregiver.
Meanwhile, I continue to miss and remember my father who is now in God’s presence, forever at rest.. free of pain and tears. I remember papa through his friends – not many left. Few weeks back, I visited another friend of his – also 93 years old. I chatted with him. It brought me much joy and comfort as he knitted his brow to remember my dad’s name, to recall their good times together, where they played tennis, where they went on a trip to watch Michael Chang play. It was a precious moment to be able to pray for his friend and his friend’s wife.
Life is short. Not many people get to live to their 90’s. Moses stated this reality in Psalm 90. He knew man’s days on earth are short and not easy. In this context, he prayed for God to ‘Teach us to number our days that we may present unto you a heart of wisdom.’
And so I remember papa by remembering his friends. I want to make my days count for something – to love papa’s friends in memory of papa that his life on earth was not in vain… that the friendship God blessed him with lives on in me, his child.
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
4 A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.