Raymond O’Connel, my dad at the late age of 60’s suffering from a major physical disability managed to call his only son from his death bed and his only last words were “Don’t Stop” to me as I was aspiring to become a travel journalist. Raymond O’Connel had lived a life being a wanderlust, being different from many travelers he always looked forward to visit exotic cities like China and Indian instead of cruises and package holidays, this was the kind of adventure that Raymond, my old man had always craved for which even inspired his son and so the son-father duo started travelling together really early age. He was one such courageous man where in completed risky solo trips in the Middle East and Asia in early 20’s which I could never even think of. During my travel diaries with my father, he was strongly blown away with the incredible ideas and itineraries and one fine day a small conversation made us plan our last trip together. I asked him about the place that he always wanted to go but could never go till now and he excitingly answered saying “Romania and Athens” and the very next moment I had booked the tickets and surprised him.
And the very first day of our trip, my dad started having an interesting conversation with the 2 Romanian men sitting opposite on the train journey heading from Bucharest to the Transylvanian mountains. Slowly, his perception about Ceausescu and the atrocities upon their country men which dismayed the men. And, during the entire trip we went through such moments because of my fathers straight shooting words. There were times when I wanted to curse the entire trip due to certain circumstances but my dad just smiled and rubbed my shoulder saying “We will make a good story out of this, son” when we made to the about to miss flight from returning trip to Bucharest.
At the Athens apartment, I peeled off my dad’s socks off his swollen feet, his left foot was the major cause for his discomfort from past 12 years and the reason of the same was, he fell from a ladder onto concrete. But that didn’t stop him from continuing his travel diaries, on my suggestion to take rest, he was always came up saying “You want break, if you want too but I won’t, I have lots to see” which truly inspired me. I wish I could force him to slow down as by the end of the trip his left foot was as twice as his right one and his chest was all congested, neither of us knew that he was going through an early stage of Bronchitis.
He got treatments done from Ireland hospital but nothing went well for quite long as he got paralyzed and it shook me, the doctors suggested me to keep talking to him though he was paralyzed and one day he did come out his paralysis and doctors were happy to inform that he would be discharged in the coming next days and at that point I took the chance to fly down to Asia for my freelancing journalism job. And, during the middle of chilly Osaka night, my phone rang and it was my dad on the other side and we shared loads of laughter and expressed love and then came his last words “Don’t stop” and for which I agreed saying I would never. He had now guided me towards my goals. That’s was the most wonderful parting gift that a son could receive from his father.