Lévis Hos­pi­tal, wait­ing for my father’s return from his treat­ment. It is often said to stay away from hos­pi­tals, not only because they are the cru­cible of all infec­tions but also because they osten­si­bly present the con­di­tion of the liv­ing. For­tu­nate­ly, our species takes care of its weak, at least in coun­tries that can afford it.

I have the reg­u­la­to­ry mask because the cur­rent pan­dem­ic, with new out­breaks of its con­geners, is still desta­bi­liz­ing the hos­pi­tal world. It is a nuclear war among res­pi­ra­to­ry virus­es as if they per­ceived that humans were out of breath.

I am wait­ing for my father when a weak voice is heard, and I need help under­stand­ing what it says. The sec­ond time is more appar­ent, and I imme­di­ate­ly spot where it comes from. There, at the cor­ner of a cor­ri­dor, the slipped feet of a lady sit­ting in a wheelchair.



I don’t move, at first, because I fig­ure there is staff near­by who will sure­ly help her. But those staff quick­ly walk past her, with­out stopping.


Her com­plaint sounds like a kit­ten’s meow, the kind that melts your heart with empa­thy. I get up to see what’s wrong with her.

The old lady, screwed up, looks up at me as I arrive.

“Please take me to my room…”

Flab­ber­gast­ed, I meet the eyes of a nurse near­by. See­ing that I am about to do some­thing non-med­ical, she approach­es us. The traits on her face polite­ly tell me to mind my own business.

“Don’t wor­ry, lit­tle lady, your trans­port is com­ing soon.” Then turn­ing on her heels after smil­ing cold­ly at me, ges­tur­ing with her hand for me to sit back down.

What is it with all of them, infan­tiliz­ing old peo­ple like that ? I remem­bered what the doc­tor said to my father a few months ago : “We don’t know what’s wrong with you, and you are a par­tic­u­lar case. It may not be much, but if it’s can­cer, the moth­er tumour has­n’t shown up yet.

The moth­er tumour… (in French, it sounds like : mom, you die)

My father is 88 years old. He has seen enough in his life to be explained as an adult what he could have. But I digress.

I sit down again, but the lady is still impa­tient, mak­ing her insis­tent complaint.

In anoth­er cor­ri­dor, an angry voice calls out. “No waaaaay!” It sounds like a shell burst as the man shouts loud­er and loud­er, then falls silent, only to start again a few sec­onds lat­er. He is prob­a­bly delirious.

As for the staff, both in front of the lady and at the coun­ters, in the cor­ri­dors, they pay no attention.

They are prob­a­bly immune ; they must be cold­ly empa­thet­ic. I don’t sense any impa­tience on their part ; instead, they keep smil­ing, say hel­lo to each oth­er, make jokes and then go on their way. At the same time, the lady keeps beg­ging to be tak­en back to her room.

The door to the vocif­er­a­tor’s room is final­ly closed. We can now hear his protests as if they were try­ing to smoth­er him with a pil­low. Maybe it is… We see so many of these days… If there is war in Ukraine, there may well be trench­es in our hos­pi­tal rooms…

Just as the door from which my father had entered for his treat­ment opened, a hand­some nurse arrived near the lady.

“Hel­lo, I’ll take you to your room.”

He did not say “lit­tle lady.” There is hope, and I fall in love with his youth.

My father smiles at me. I arrive with his wheelchair.

There is hope for him too.

I am hap­py to help him. My lit­tle dad­dy of love…

No, no, don’t wor­ry. I do it on pur­pose for this text.

In my heart, actions, and words, I am the son who is aware of the long walk his father has tak­en before me.

Life goes on.