Children Forget about Their Father, So He Spends the Night Outdoors in a Wheelchair – Story of the Day
Two children left their wheel-chair-bound ailing father out on the porch and he ended up spending the night outdoors.
Peter Jackson was 32 when his wife passed away, leaving him to raise their twin children, Danielle and Michael, on his own. Devastated, Peter devoted himself to the children and making sure they lacked for nothing.
A gifted cabinetmaker, Peter worked night and day. He knew that with just one paycheck it would be hard to give the children the education he and his wife had dreamed of. Peter's whole life was focused on those children, but his dedication was not rewarded.
Peter knew that attending a good school would open doors for Danielle and Michael, so he placed them in an exclusive private school. Even though he was doing extremely well, the school fees took every cent he earned.
The two children were bright and studious, and Peter was proud to see them at the top of the academic honors list year after year. When they finished high school, their results guaranteed them entry into the best universities.
Both Danielle and Michael were given scholarships, which helped a lot, but there were there living and traveling expenses to be paid, and Peter worked harder than ever.
Two kids in college at the same time was a huge financial drain on Peter, and he spent it all on Danielle and Michael, without thinking about saving for his future, or his retirement. When they graduated, Peter continued helping them.
Peter never imagined that at the age of 63 he would suffer a stroke that left him unable to work, walk, and talk. The once strapping, energetic man was bound to a wheelchair. His once skilled hands could barely hold a spoon.
His children, now successful professionals, were faced with the fact that their father was now unable to care for himself or live on his own. Neither was willing to take on their father's care full time, so they agreed to share the burden.
Peter would spend ten days with Danielle, and then ten days with Michael. Once so dynamic, he was now a silent figure, hunched in his chair. Sometimes they forgot who he was, and he became a shadow on their perfect lives.
Danielle was disgusted by Peter's trembling hands and the occasional drip of saliva that ran down his chin. The man who'd cared for her and loved her became repulsive to her and she resented him.
Sometimes we need to come close to losing something before we appreciate it.
As for Michael, Peter's eager -- and unsuccessful attempts -- at communication irritated him and his wife. Things came to a head when Michael was to celebrate his 10th wedding anniversary.
Unfortunately for Michael, his anniversary fell halfway through his 10 days with Peter, and his wife was outraged: "I want a normal life, Michael, and I swear that if we don't celebrate our anniversary as we planned, there won't be another!"
So Michael called his sister and begged her to take their father, just for the night. "No, Michael," Danielle cried. "No way! These last ten days were a NIGHTMARE! It's your turn, so suck it up!"
Furious, Michael shoved Peter into his car and drove to his sister's house. He rang the doorbell and hammered on the door. "Danielle, open up!" he shouted, "Come on! My marriage is on the line!"
Danielle shouted back through the firmly shut door: "So's mine, not to mention my sanity! It's your turn with zombie dad, so make a plan!"
"I'm leaving him right here, Danielle!" screamed Michael, "So you'd better open up!" He shoved Peter's wheelchair closer to the door, got into his car, and drove away.
Danielle didn't open the door. It never occurred to her that her brother had left their father sitting on her porch. She talked to her husband about what a spoiled brat her brother was and had a nice glass of wine with her dinner.
The next morning, when she opened the front door to go to work, she was stunned to find her father slumped in his wheelchair, trembling and ice-cold. Robbed of his voice, he hadn't even been able to call for help.
Danielle called an ambulance and Peter was rushed to the hospital where the doctors told her that he had come close to dying of exposure. Peter's frail constitution and the night spent outdoors put his life at risk.
Danielle called her brother. "Michael, it's dad..."
Michael snarled: "If you're calling me to complain about last night..."
"He's in the hospital, he may not make it," she said. "The doctors say he spent the night outside. I didn't think you'd really leave him there..."
"I... I didn't think you wouldn't open the door!" gasped Michael. "My God, Danielle, what have we done?"
That day, Danielle and Michael sat by Peter's bed, looking at his pale drawn face, holding those frail hands that had worked so hard to make their dreams come true and they were deeply ashamed.
When Peter opened his eyes, he saw his children by his bedside, and for the first time in a very long time, there was love in their eyes. "Dad," whispered Michael. "I'm so sorry. Please forgive me..."
Danielle was crying: "I'm sorry, Dad, you deserve better than this, a lot better. But I can promise you that from now on, things will be different."
And they were. Danielle and Michael realized how much they loved their father, and how much they owed him for his years of sacrifice. They became the most loving and dedicated of children for the rest of his life.
What can we learn from this story?
Those we love are never a burden. Peter, left alone with two children, gave his all to make sure they had the best of everything -- but Michael and Danielle didn't do the same for him.
Sometimes we need to come close to losing something before we appreciate it. Sadly, it took Peter almost dying of neglect for his children to realize how much they loved him.
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