Saturday, February 7, 2009

Vigils and Visitors

There are two kinds of families when someone is in hospital: vigil families, and visitor families. Visitor families stop in during visitor hours. They stand at the end of the bed and ask you a series of ridiculous questions. They search awkwardly for conversation and excuse themselves early. They do not take off their coats. Vigil families drive you to the hospital with a packed overnight bag and their own pillow. They then set up by the side of your bed. If you fall asleep they wander the halls of the hospital, looking for spare or lonely people (of which there are many in hospitals) who could use a reprieve. It is a great mercy for vigil families that hospital stays are now so short.

Of course, each has a dark side. Visitor families are sometimes delinquent families, who inquire whether their wife isn't a little pale, only to be reminded that she was in for an appendectomy three weeks prior. Vigil families can become the type of open emotional display that requires a summons to hospital security.

My mother is a vigil person who married into a visitor family. This is stressful for everyone.

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