Years ago, Mom would have to stay in the hospital for a couple of days in a row fairly frequently. She always had something going wrong with her. I believe that the term that her doctor used during one of her last visits to describe her current condition was 'cancer factory'. I'm sure this was not as callous as it sounds here. My Mom had been living with one type of cancer or another for fifteen years and it was not news to her that she was in bad shape.
When Mom was in the hospital I would go by and visit her, of course. We aren't an emotionally open family and it's always been hard for us to actually say how much we care about each other. Instead, we've always relied on each other just knowing from our actions how we feel. Everybody in the family had 'the thing' that they did to let Mom know that we loved her.
Dad was always at the hospital for as long as he possibly could be, to do whatever he could for her. He would've done anything.
My older bother Mike's ridiculously loud laugh couldn't be less appropriate in a quiet hospital, but there's no place that it was needed more. His wife Fran (a pearl among the emotionless robot swine) always made an appropriately large fuss, asking all the right questions, and bringing thoughtful special gifts that made Mom feel important every time.
Jason wasn't always great at showing up for this kid of thing and when he did he was usually so visibly uncomfortable that you could see that just making it in the door was his 'thing'.
Since being a sarcastic dickhead is not a very useful skill when some one is suffering, I didn't really know what my 'thing' to help Mom was going to be. She knew though. One of the times I went to visit her she asked me to brings some markers and paper. Mom wanted me to sit with her and draw Stick Figure Andrew for a while. I've never been sure whether it was more for her or for me.
I spent all afternoon there drawing these stupid stick figures about anything that happened in that room. And if nothing happened for a few minutes we would start talking and that would lead to some ridiculous idea like the time that Stick Figure Andrew decided that he was a doctor because he had found some surgical gloves in one of the hospital's cabinets while visiting Stick Figure Mom who was sick. He was not obviously fit to be a doctor and hi-jinks ensued. When the nurse came in we were laughing like two idiots.
At some point after I had gone home, Mom asked the nurse for some tape and she stuck our drawings up all over her room. She said said it made her feel good. She wasn't the only one.
I love you Mom.