Sunday, June 29, 2014
A visit to Peter Chatfield
"While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die."
Leonardo da Vinci
It's the first day of Ramadan and I thought I'd take advantage of the lie ins many of those observing the holy month would be taking and visit Queen's Hospital at the start of visiting hours.
Dad and I visited Bruv Peter Chatfield. Four weeks ago Peter, a mechanic by trade, felt unusual pains on his lower back. Subsequent medical advice confirmed the very worst - He had cancer of the spine. The Doctors have given him six months to live.
Pete's deteriorating condition has led to an astonishing and overwhelming response from our community; "I am truly lucky," said Pete. "I don't turn anyone away. In the last few days I have had over 400 visitors. It's madness, and I'm so thrilled and feel so blessed to be so loved. That is the most important thing here - love."
Within the last week Pete has had an astonishing number of visitors. Yesterday a visitor flew in from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, just to see him and fly back again. The day before a family from Pensylvania, USA came to spend some time with him. After spending over an hour with Pete it's not difficult to see why. When you meet him you instantly sense that rare beauty within him, which blossoms like the most fragrant rose. Pete is a magnet and you'll struggle not to hug him. Even in such pain he kept fussing around me and dad, making sure we were comfortably seated in his presence; "Sit near me Baba," he kept calling to Dad.
If you have the good fortune to visit Pete you will notice right away how chirpy a character he is. Pete is sharp, focused and doesn't forget a name or face. He kept cuddling Dad and engaged in interesting conversations with him; "I know I haven't long left," he said. "I'm ready to go and I hope anyone I have hurt or upset can forgive me before I leave you all.
Death is inevitable for all humans and Pete is calm; "Am I scared about leaving life? No, I'm at peace and surrounded by so much love. In fact I had to temporarily block my phone as I couldn't handle the sheer number of calls and messages I have received. I have not had one moment of doubt of where I'm going. Blessed be those who visit me." We joked that I could be his PA to handle all calls, messages and texts.
Amidst all this Pete has thoughts for his fellow patients; "I wish everyone here a speedy recovery. There's so much you learn about human nature and life. Some people don't receive a single visit throughout their stay and I have hundreds.
"It's so sad but that is the reality of life. People need to take a minute and spend some time with their loved ones - doing the important things in life - it's a hell of a lot more than just a working, eating, sleeping routine for 60 or 70 years."
As I hugged him to leave Pete gave me a peck on the cheek; "look after your Mum and Dad," were his parting words. Amen to that Pete my pal.
If that man isn't inspiration then someone needs to redefine the very word right now. Now, if you're sitting there feeling sorry for yourself and your circumstances then take a long hard look at Pete. He's a credit to himself, his family and his community. Not once did he cry, lament or curse his lot and his attitude was so beautifully refreshing and buoyant throughout.
God willing Peter Chatfield's mortal life is coming to an end and whilst we prepare to celebrate and mourn his living and departure from this temporal and short life it's important we are inspired by him too. The lesson I learnt today is this: Lead a productive life and always spare a little to help your fellow human for we don't know wherein within these situations lays our salvation.
A massive thank you to the brilliant staff at Queen's Hospital who day in and day out continue to provide amazing care for Pete and every patient there.
Visiting times are between 10:30-19.30 and please respect the two visitors at a time rule.
"The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?"
Edgar Allan Poe
Posted by Number 7 at 14:42