You’re about to read an inspirational story about a young Marine who spends the night in a hospital comforting an elderly man.
The old man is dying, and all he wants is his son by his side — but the nurse makes a big mistake.
This not a true story, but an incredible work of short fiction written in 1964 by Roy Popkin. It was published under the title “Night Watch” in the September 1965 edition of Reader’s Digest.
Because of its highly emotional pull, the story has been re-circulated online since the 1990s under a variety of titles such as “He Needed a Son” and “Just Stay,” and has also been reprinted in a number of Chicken Soup for the … Soul editions.
Read on, but make sure to keep your tissues close.
The ending features a surprising twist, so much so that I had to go back and read it again…
“A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. ‘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 of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand.
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 beside the bed.
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.
Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile.