A poignant Cyprus tale - Kindness is not foreign, it exists everywhere.
by Richard W. Brown
In 2008 while on a regular soiree to Cyprus, I became aware that all was not well with me, so I set off to find a medical clinic where I was informed in no uncertain terms that I must not move as I was having a heart attack.
Despite the pressure from 2 doctors and some other staff, I was reluctantly given the use of the clinic's ambulance. I remember entering the ambulance but that was it for about a week when I was vaguely aware of my wife and daughter who had been summoned from England to see me off!
Needless to say I recovered very slowly and with the support tubes removed a while later I could hardly speak and, even if I could, most of the staff at Paphos General Hospital could barely understand my English so communicating with them was frustrating to say the least.
During the first week in the recovery ward I was lucky enough to have the company of an ex-pat who relayed my requests to the staff, but he was replaced later by a very old Cypriot gentleman who it transpired was a farmer who could not speak a word of English.
My main problem was that due to the feeding tube that had now been removed, my throat and mouth were constantly dry and I was in constant need of cold drinks. Unable to walk or communicate I suffered from dehydration more than from my heart attack which turned out to be heart failure.
In desperation at being unable to even reach up and access the cunningly placed call button, I tried calling out several times but could only emit a croak a frog would have laughed at, but each of which got weaker as I always submitted to fatigue.
lying there weak with eyes closed and gasping, I felt a light touch on my shoulder and turning my head could just make out the old gentleman sitting on the bed next to mine looking at me. He had tapped me with his stick and was beckoning me to sit up encouraging me by holding out a small orange.
With the greatest effort I summoned up every ounce of strength and pulled myself up inch by inch until I was able to support my back. Without a word the old man slowly peeled the orange, broke it into half and then segmented it. With the juice running down his fingers he held them out to me nodding indicating that I take them. He demonstrated to me by raising his eyebrows while sucking at his half of the orange he told me to eat. I then ate the sweetest, juiciest Clementine eve, followed soon after by another, whereupon after thanking him profusely the old man just half smiled, nodded an acknowledgement and swung his legs back into bed.
This small act of spontaneous charity was made more poignant by the fact that two days later the old man died. I could not even pay my last respects or thank him for his kindness because his tidied up bed was now just a void that he had once occupied, he having been removed while I was under sedation. I was so sad I cried without the strength to wipe away the tears running down onto my bed.
2 weeks later I was allowed home but managed to find out that the old man had been 96 years old and owned a farm on which he grewm, amongst other things, Clementines, which his family brought to his hospital bed at his request. Bless him still.