Through the tracheotomy tube that pierced his throat, a raspy whispering voice ventured to ask: "Is it true you did all that for me?" His bright, round brown eyes grew even wider, parting the huge lashes that encircled them, and overtaking the sunken, sallow cheeks; months of malnutrition had corrupted his face. He then pronounced, with a smile, "Thank you for all you have done for me."

I didn't know what Dad was thanking me for This was the thank you that gave me the security to leave town for four days, to visit my son studying abroad, after a ten week vigil in Dad's hospital room. It was the thank you that soothed my soul, like setting a postage stamp on the envelope of a much procrastinated letter. There. Done. Got it.

Dad had gone through medical and spiritual hell and emerged to discover that some profound things had transpired during his anesthetized, comatose state. He had defied death and rebounded multiple times. His life was a miracle. I had been steadily by his side. And so he thanked me.

I wasn't looking for thanks. I had done whatever I had because that is the daughter that I tried to be: dutiful, diligent, loving, giving. I thought of the endless hours in the emergency room the night of the accident; the countless Shabbats spent in the ICU; the incessantly chanted psalms and prayers; the consultations with doctors; the pennies I had put in his fingers and guided into the charity box I kept at his bedside; the encouragement I offered Mom; the hope; the refusal to give up.

Or was it the visits? The gentle stroking of his face; the holding his soft, aged hand; the swabbing his dry tongue with a lemon stick; placing ice chips in his parched lips when he was still allowed to swallow.

I didn't know what Dad was thanking me for but I knew it felt good.

I believed with certainty that the course of events that had kept him in the hospital for five roller coaster months were directed by G‑d. There were things that needed to happen for all of us— family members, physicians, and hospital staff. But mostly, I understood, the process was for Dad's soul. G‑d granted him the gift of teshuvah, rectifying past wrongs,before he died.

As his body wasted away, the infected bed sores poisoning his blood stream, causing fevers and delirium that alternated with prolonged periods of sleep from which he could not be roused, I knew that he was going through what he needed to in order to leave this world peacefully.

Dad suffered throughout his seventy-eight yearsDad suffered throughout his seventy-eight years. He transmitted his legacy to me in that bright-eyed whisper of an enthusiastic "thank you" in the respiratory care unit.. He was sitting upright. He was genuinely surprised. "You did all that for me?" He showed gratitude. Humility. Love.

Dad was not always able to be calm or affirming; he was often critical and irritable. But in that moment of soaring spirit, it all came together. His smile, his warmth, his child like sincerity told me: I value you. I appreciate you. I can rise above my pain and connect with the essential you through the essential me in this very moment.

A moment, a smile, a few words. These are Dad's legacy to me.