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Volunteer pens a touching tribute to a “feisty” patient and the nurses who cared for him

Volunteer Rakesh Misra

Volunteer Rakesh Misra became friends with a sometimes “feisty” patient and watched as a team of compassionate nurses gently cared for him.

The following was written by hospital volunteer Rakesh Misra. To protect privacy, identifying information has been removed.

A man died at The Ottawa Hospital. And no one was there to cry.

This is my eulogy to him.

I met him almost five years ago when I started volunteering at The Ottawa Hospital. My first memory of him is watching him as he shouted at nurses. He shouted a lot…at everyone. A social worker once told me he was “feisty.”

He once asked his doctor to donate her kidney to him and tried to convince her by saying that this could be the most generous doctor/patient relationship ever!

To all the nurses (and doctors) who took care of him: he told me many, many times how nurses were the kindest, most compassionate, generous humans. I saw that in the years I watched them take care of him.

In the moment that he died, the last words he might have heard were from a song by one of his favourite singers.

The day he died, I walked into his room and watched two nurses gently wash him and change him, all the while speaking to him softly as he groaned.

Later that day, a nurse had placed an iPhone playing music next to his ear. In the moment that he died, the last words he might have heard were from a song by one of his favourite singers.

I remember when I accompanied him to one of his many medical appointments. A nurse asked him if I was his son. So he started referring to me as his son from that day on (I’m only seven years younger than he was.)

In those five years, I got to know him through his stories. He spoke of his fondness for his mother and his cross-continental road trips with his wife and children. I got to know him as an aficionado of music in a language he neither spoke nor understood.

He wanted to live to be 100. And if he couldn’t, he wanted me to promise that I would make sure his body was frozen so he could return!

But on the day before he died, he told me he was ready. He told his nurse the same thing.

And then he died. At his bedside stood a nurse and me, a volunteer, as two doctors pronounced him dead. And maybe I did cry.


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