Early in 2003 Fred Evans fell and broke his hip. Not unusual for a man of 88. However, it was the events over the next few weeks that showed the world what this man was made of. The next day he had an operation, which turned out to be a total hip replacement. Within a few days, he was sent to a Rehabilitation Hospital, with all the usual hopes for a complete recovery for a man of his age and situation: 'absolutely none,' said the medical experts and nursing staff! Funny about that, absolutely no hope at all.
My first conversation with Dad was a few days after his admittance to the Rehab Hospital in Sydney.
'A bit of pain Son,' he tells me ... 'but I'll be okay.'
'See all of these other old blokes in here; most of them have been in here for between 3 and 6 months, with no hope of ever going home.'
“No way will I end up like them!”
'I will go home to your Mum within the next few weeks!'
Because of the distance between Newcastle and his Rehab Hospital, I did not get to see him every day, but phoned regularly. I got to see him each weekend.
On my next visit, I stopped at reception on the way to his ward. The duty nurse gave me a 'rave review' of his progress, saying that they didn't believe what they were seeing. 'Your Father is a walking miracle,' I was told. As I approached Dad's bed I saw him getting something from the other side of his bed as he was swinging himself into a position to get up and spend some time with me. Walking sticks.
'Thanks for coming in to see me Son, it's good to see you, come for a slow walk with me,' he said.
He proudly assured me that he was okay to do it on his own, but it would be nice if I were right there next to him as we 'walked.' Sure enough, he had been so determined to get home to his wife of 62 years; he had been training hard every day! So we went for a stroll around the corridors of his prison, and was he proud of his ability to conquer the odds? You bet he was! Only 3 weeks after being admitted to that 'depressing place,' he walked out without any assistance from anyone. Just as I had been told - a walking miracle.
He only had one motive, but a very powerful one. To get home to his beautiful wife of 62 years, my Mum Margaret ... he missed her. His determination, courage, and incredible love and devotion towards my Mother (after all that time together) was an inspiration to me that can't be overstated. I thank him for that! Fred Evans was a gentle caring man, with the courage and inner strength of a lion, and the heart of a Saint.
I had only recently grown to appreciate that I was so lucky to have such a mentor, and to realize that I was absolutely blessed to have had that experience. It wasn't too late though. I got to tell him how much he meant to me, and to thank him for being who he was, and to share some amazing moments with him towards the end of his humble, quietly-lived life.
Over the next, few months’ fate stepped in and other medical complications took him from us, but he left us all with memories of what it is like to spend some time with someone special. Thanks Dad.
May this inspire you to overcome some form of adversity in your own life by showing some courage - despite the odds, express some love and gratitude - despite the circumstances.