A year ago, it seemed as if George Pickering III had seen his final Christmas, in a standoff with SWAT team officers as he tried to keep his son alive.

Texas’ Tomball Regional Medical Center told his father, George Pickering II, in January that the son was “brain dead, he was a vegetable,” Pickering II later told Click2Houston. The hospital had placed the decision-making into the hands of Pickering’s ex-wife and his other son and had begun a “terminal wean” off of life-support measures. The father was not involved.

But Pickering had seen his son in touch-and-go spots before – and had watched him come out of it. He thought the hospital was moving too fast.

So he decided to buy some time with a gun.

Pickering II’s hours-long standoff landed him in jail until this month. He’s been released in time for Christmas – which he’ll spend with his son, who is alive, healthy and out of the hospital.

“I knew if I had three or four hours that night that I would know whether George was brain dead,” Pickering told Click2Houston.

When Pickering first showed his gun at the hospital, he was quickly disarmed by his other son. But the wily dad lied and said he had a second firearm.

“I said, ‘I was in the Boy Scouts, you think I only have one gun?’” Pickering said.

He closed a curtain to be alone with his son while SWAT officers negotiated.

“During that three hours, George squeezed my hand three or four times on command,” Pickering said.

After several hours, Pickering surrendered. His son, however, was still fighting, and eventually he recovered.

“There was a law broken, but it was broken for all the right reasons,” Pickering III said. “I’m here now because of it. It was love. It was love.”

Tomball said in a statement that “due to strict privacy laws, we are unable to comment about individual patients, but we encourage you to contact local law enforcement for a complete picture of the events that took place.”

“It’s the duty of a parent to protect your children and that’s all he did,” Pickering III said. “Everything good that made me a man is because of that man sitting next to me.”