A Story Written by Dad

Dad in Hospital andme During 1996, my Dad,Peter Smith, underwent a quadruple heart bypass operation. The operation went o.k., but complications such as kidney failure, and chronic high blood pressure delayed recovery quite significantly. In fact, Dad was in a critical condition in intensive care for a whole week, where a normal bypass patient is in intensive care for only a couple of days.

For a little while it looked touch and go - and at one stage we almost lost him. During the worst of it Dad was barely conscious and doesn't remember much of what was going on around him. I'm sure the strong will of my mum, Teresa, was one factor that pulled him through. This is my Dad's recollection of these events as related in a letter he sent to me a little while ago:

An Actual Event ??? or Just a Dream

A n actual happening is something that can be fixed in time, either by use of a clock or calendar, whereas a dream is fragile, unclear and usually disperses or vanishes entirely after waking. Can the two ever combine to produce a memory that lingers for weeks? I don't know the answer -perhaps you can work it out.

I had been admitted to a local hospital for by-pass surgery and the day before the operation had been visited by the surgeon who had described the procedure to follow. He told me that the surgery was fairly common these days and usually completed without problems and with every expectation of complete success. Naturally, itwas still a very serious operation and no iron clad guarantee was possible.

The following morning I was given a good breakfast and shortly after, the words"Nil by mouth" were written over my bed. No morning tea, no lunch, just a long day of waiting. During the afternoon a nurse appeared with four small pills - two white and two bright blue - with about 10 mls of water. Whatever they were,they certainly worked because I have no recollection of the bed ride to the operating theatre, no glimpse of masked figures under bright lights or even words of reassurance.

I was later told that the by-pass operation was completed without a hitch and that I was later transferred back to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit where I was wired up and tubed to various monitoring equipment to start the road to recovery.

So what, you say. That's an event that is surely documented in the hospital records. Nothing very unusual in all that. Well, just read on a little further and then judge again.

I have no idea of the time but suspect that it was late on Thursday, the day after the operation, when suddenly I was outside the body looking down on a figure lying in a hospital bed, festooned with tubes and wires, with alarms sounding, lights flashing and various dials spinning. Even as I watched, the scene became smaller and smaller as I climbed away.

A few years ago Teresa and I took up Counted Cross-stitch as a hobby and we have completed a number of designs. Prior to this, however, I had done some tapestry work, the last being a piece entitled "Majestic Flight" - a picture of an eagle soaringover mountain tops seeking .... what???

Eagle Soaring I now became that eagle, climbing higher and higher away from the world below. Ever seeking, ever searching, grasping at up-draughts of wind. Suddenly, there in the distance, on top of the highest peak, I saw a light, and with a screech of joy I headed towards it.

As I got closer, I could see it was more than just a light. It was a window or gateway through which glorious beams of golden light flooded the skies around me. With another cry of joy I dived for the entrance, to be suddenly stopped in mid flight as though I had struck an invisible barrier. I shook my head. What was this? Something or someone was preventing me from going any further. Then I heard it again: "Peter, Peter".

I closed my wings around my body, tucked in my tail feathers and dropped like a stone to the world below. The light on the mountain top flickered and then went out, cloaking the skies with darkness ..... but still I fell, until there below I could see first a city, then a suburb, a street, a building, and finally a bed with a still figure. Now, however, there was another figure sitting beside the bed and holding a cold hand."Peter, Peter" she said.

I opened my wings and hovered above the scene and then slipped quietly into the body. I shuddered, opened my eyes and smiled at my wife. I closed my eyes again and fell into a normal sleep. A nurse standing behind my wife, touched her on the shoulder and said,"He'll be alright now. Look." The monitor alarms had fallen silent, the dials indicated normal readings and the heart beat was steady.

A happening or a dream? A flight of the imagination or a touch of fantasy? A bit of both or none? I don't know the answer. Do you???

Majestic Flight

Peter Smith, Cattai, NSW, Australia,
November 1996

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