What you are about to read is a stimulating story about a young Marine. He spends the night in a hospital besides a dying old man. The story is an amazing work of short fiction written by Roy Popkin in 1964. Though not true, this story is a rollercoaster of human emotions. It was published in the September 1965 edition of Reader’s Digest under the title “Night Watch”.The only thing he wants is his son to be by his side. It’s definitely going to make you very emotional when you read this and the ending has a shocking twist. Most of you might have to go back to understand the story more clearly. So read it carefully. The story goes like this…
“Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain from his heart attack, he dimly saw the young man in the Marine Corps uniform standing outside the oxygen tent.
The marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit alongside the bed. Nights are long in hospitals–but all through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength.
He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital–the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.
The dying man said nothing, and only held tightly to his son all through the night. As dawn approached, the old man died. The Marine placed the lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.
She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her. “Who was that man?” he asked. The nurse was startled. “He was your father,” she answered. “No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”
“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, I knew how much he needed me. I stayed.”