The statue Rick owns that’s mentioned in this story is referenced in the aired episode, Something Special.
Cecilia Simon sat in a dimly lit room at County General Hospital. The hour was late, and any noise coming from the hallway was muted. Nurses kept their voices soft in deference of their sleeping patients. If a phone rang, or the wheels of a supply cart squeaked, the sound penetrated the night in the way wailing sirens on fire trucks penetrated a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Cecilia divided her time between the beds that contained her sons, Richard and Andrew. Abigail Marsh had called Cecilia to the hospital nine hours earlier. At three o'clock that afternoon, Cecilia's sons had left the courthouse, where they had spent the day giving testimony for a case they had worked on. They were five minutes away from the courthouse, with Abby right behind them in an unmarked squad car, when a man in a station wagon ran a red light. The Ford station wagon plowed into the driver’s side of A.J.’s Carmaro. The car skidded through the intersection, finally coming to rest after the passenger side slammed into a pickup truck.
Cecilia glanced at her watch and saw by the dim light that was coming from a lamp on a table in-between the two beds, that it was now one a.m. She stood when a nurse entered the room. The woman smiled at Cecilia.
“Still here, Mrs. Simon?”
“For a while longer yet,” Cecilia responded, while recognizing she was being vague. Since Doctor Raj had said she could stay as long as she desired, Cecilia wouldn’t commit to leaving at a specific time.
The nurse didn’t press Cecilia on the issue as she approached Rick’s bedside. Possibly Raj had told the staff not to, or possibly Raj had told the woman Cecilia was a widow and these two men were her only children. Either way, Cecilia didn’t know and didn’t care. She’d been a quiet, unobtrusive visitor so assumed the nurses wouldn’t give her a hassle if she didn’t give them one.
Cecilia watched as the nurse took Rick’s pulse and blood pressure. Considering he’d been sitting on the passenger side of the car, his injuries weren't as severe as they could have been. His right wrist had suffered a break that the doctors had set in the Emergency Room, his rib cage was bruised, and he had a deep gash on his forehead that had taken eighteen stitches to close, as well as a concussion. He had been unconscious when he arrived at the hospital, and had remained that way for an hour. Cecilia had been with Rick ever since they had settled him in this room. A nurse came in every hour to wake the injured man and chart how he responded to her.
The woman shook Rick’s left shoulder. “Mr. Simon? Mr. Simon, wake up. Mr. Simon?”
Rick groaned and looked up through swollen eyes. He looked like he’d been in a barroom brawl. Black and blue bruises circled his eyes, and shattered glass had left jagged cuts dotting his forehead, cheeks, and chin.
“Mr. Simon, can you hear me?”
“I hear ya’.”
Cecilia would have been embarrassed by her son’s tone – he sounded like a grumpy five-year-old who’d just been woken from his nap – if it hadn’t been for the fact that she knew he was exhausted and just wanted to sleep.
The nurse when through the routine Cecilia now had memorized. Rick correctly gave his full name, what day of the week it was, the name of the current president, and was able to recall he’d been in a car accident. He traced the path of the woman’s finger with his eyes when she requested that he do so, and was able to assure her that no, his headache wasn’t any worse than it had been an hour earlier.
“But it still hurts like hell,” he emphasized, even though he’d been told numerous times he wouldn’t be allowed any pain medication until after Doctor Raj saw him during morning rounds.
“I’m sure it does, Mr. Simon. Is there anything I can get you that would make you more comfortable?”
“Yeah. Two bottles of extra strength Excedrine.”
“Rick...” Cecilia scolded.
“Well, she asked.”
“How about some 7-Up?” the nurse inquired.
“How about a shot of tequila?” Rick tossed back.
The woman looked at Cecilia and teased, “Is he always this difficult?”
“Yes, he is.”
The nurse laughed, then returned her attention to Rick. “Sorry, but 7-Up is the best I can offer. Do you want it?”
“No thanks. I’m fine.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you before I leave?”
“And that is?”
“Don’t take any offense at this, but don’t come back, huh? When a woman wakes me up in the middle of the night my mom isn’t usually in my bedroom with me, and the woman doing the waking isn’t asking me who the president is. Since that’s all you’re concerned with, I’d just as soon go right on sleeping.”
The nurse chuckled at what she already perceived as Rick’s sense of humor, as opposed to taking it as a proposition or inappropriate remark. But then, Cecilia supposed most nurses learned how to handle forthright male patients during the early stages of their careers, and by the time they had a few years of experience in the profession, were seasoned pros.
“No promises, Mr. Simon, except this one. I’ll be back in an hour.”
“Oh joy. I can’t wait.”
Rick watched as the nurse checked his brother’s pulse and blood pressure.
“How is he?”
“He’s fine, Mr. Simon.”
“How come you’re not wakin’ him up, too?”
“Because he doesn’t have a concussion.”
“If I give him one, will you wake him up, too?”
“I’m only kiddin,’ Mom. I just figured if I gotta go through this, then A.J. should have to go through it with me.”
“I imagine you’re brother would disagree with you on that.”
Cecilia let the subject drop there. Despite Rick’s words, she knew he’d never wish any injury upon his brother, nor inflict one either.
After the nurse left, Cecilia asked, “Is your wrist bothering you?”
“I’ll find a pillow we can prop it up on. That might help some.”
The bright lights in the hall forced Cecilia to squint. As tears caused by the irritation ran from her eyes, Cecilia realized how tired she was. She had been up for twenty hours now, and knew her night was far from over yet.
Cecilia shrugged away those thoughts. After all, she was a mother, and this was hardly the first time she’d lost a night of sleep due to a sick child, or two sick children for that matter. Besides, Cecilia was of the opinion that her children were worth losing a night of sleep over now and again.
Cecilia returned to the boys’ room ten minutes later, glancing at the sleeping A.J. as she walked to Rick's side.
The detective opened his eyes upon his mother's return. He allowed her to lift his right wrist and place it on the pillow she propped between his side and the bed railing.
“You’re welcome. Can I get you anything else?”
“Well, since the nurse won’t be bringin’ me tequila, how about some water?”
“Water I can do.”
Cecilia turned toward the nightstand. She picked up the pitcher that was there and poured water into a cup, filling it to halfway. Rick reached out his left hand and took the cup from her. He drained it in six swallows, then handed it back to her.
“Thanks, Mom. Don’t know what we’d do without ya’.” Rick winced as he turned his head to look at is brother. "Has A.J. been awake yet?"
"Just briefly when they brought him in from the recovery room."
"What did you tell me his injuries were?"
"You tell me," Cecilia responded. She had already told Rick two different times throughout the night what the extent of his brother's injuries were. Therefore, with Rick's head injury in mind, she wanted to see if he could recite them back to her.
"You're tough, Dr. Simon. Take pity on an injured man."
"Not this time. Come on, what did I tell you was wrong with A.J.?"
Rick looked at his brother again, hoping to get some clues. "You said his left arm was broken, right? That's why he had to have surgery - so they could set the bones."
"Very good. But I think you had a little help with that one." Cecilia looked over at her youngest and the cast that ran from his left hand all the way up his arm. "What else?"
"Uh...lots of cuts from the glass from the driver's side window, and a...a bruised kneecap?"
"That’s correct. Good. You remembered.”
As Rick allowed his eyes to close, Cecilia was relieved that he appeared to be drifting off to sleep. Therefore, she was surprised when his eyes opened again. "I was so damn scared, Mom. The last thing I can remember is realizing that A.J. 's side of the car had been hit. I heard him cry out in pain. I was trying to figure out what had happened, tryin' to figure out how bad he was hurt, calling his name and stuff, then everything went black. That must have been when my side got hit."
Cecilia nodded her agreement, then urged, "Honey, you need to go back to sleep now. It won't be long before the nurse is here to wake you up again. A.J. will be fine. Every time Pam..the nurse, comes in to check on you, she checks on him as well. She keeps assuring me that everything's all right where you’re both concerned, so quit worrying and get some rest.”
"Okay,” Rick agreed, his pounding head forcing him to acknowledge his mother was correct when she said he needed to sleep. “Mom, why don't you go home. You look beat. I’m fine, and you just got done sayin’ that said A.J.’s fine, so you might as well get some sleep, too."
"A.J. is fine,” Cecilia agreed. “But I'm staying until the doctors make their rounds later this morning. Now I don't want any more back talk, do you understand?"
"Yes, ma'am. Geez, you're stubborn. Then you wonder where A.J. and I get it from."
Cecilia laughed softly as she bent and kissed her oldest on the cheek. "No, I don’t wonder. Now go back to sleep.”
As Rick drifted off to sleep, he murmured, "You're the best, Mom."
Cecilia shook her head fondly at her oldest son, and the flattery he was famous for as she moved over to his brother's bedside. She pulled the blanket up higher over the sleeping A.J. He had evidently pushed it down with his right hand until it was bunched around his waist. She bent and kissed his cheek lightly, too, as she said softly, "Old habits die hard, don't they, sweetheart? I think I spent more time covering you again at night when you were little than I spent doing anything else."
Satisfied that A.J. didn't seem to be in any discomfort and was still sleeping soundly, Cecilia sat in the chair once again. She rubbed a hand over her tired eyes, and thought back to all the times she had been this exhausted after being up with a sick child. There was the time when Rick was three and had whooping cough, and the time when she’d been eight months pregnant with A.J. when five-year-old Rick had the chicken pox. If it hadn't been for Jack's help, Cecilia didn't think she would have weathered that. Poor Rick had been so sick. She then recalled the time when A.J. was two and had woken up in the middle of the night screaming from the pain of an ear infection, and then when he was four and they had almost lost him because of an allergic reaction to a shot of penicillin. She, and Jack, and a young Rick, had all kept a vigil that night.
There had been so many other times over the years as well, when Cecilia had kept watch over one of her boys throughout a long, sleepless night. She had thought those nights would end once the boys were grown, but first Rick went off to war, and many sleepless nights were spent praying for his safe return. Then Cecilia’s sons chose to go into a line of work that occasionally brought danger with it, and more sleepless nights were spent praying when one of them was injured while working on a case.
As Cecilia looked from one son to the other, she smiled.
For all the sleepless nights you two have caused your mother, your father would be so proud. He would be very proud of the men you've both become.
Cecilia looked at her watch. It was then that she realized February 13th had passed, and February 14th - Valentines Day, was upon them. She smiled a soft smile of remembrance as she thought back to a Valentines Day thirty-four years earlier, and the two little boys she was taking care of then.
The measles ran rampant through Mission Bay Elementary School that winter of 1955. Ten-year-old Rick came home from the fourth grade on a Monday afternoon complaining of a sore throat. Over the weekend, Cecilia had noticed that Rick had a runny nose, but since he didn't have a temperature and wasn't complaining of feeling ill, she sent him to school.
That afternoon though, as she looked at his red throat and took his temperature, Cecilia became alarmed when the thermometer read 102 degrees. She knew Rick had to be ill when he didn't protest his mother's suggestion that he get into pajamas and climb in bed.
For the next two days, Rick stayed in bed. He continued to run a temperature, and complained of a sore throat, headache, and upset stomach. Cecilia ran up and down the stairs more times than she could count, bringing children’s aspirin and cold drinks, trying to coax Rick into eating something, and playing games with him. Then at noontime, when A.J. returned home from kindergarten, she had to contend with an active five year old, while at the same time attempting to keep him away from his brother in an effort to prevent him from becoming ill to.
That was a battle Cecilia lost. As Cecilia was wiping a feverish Rick down with a cool cloth on Thursday, A.J. appeared in the doorway of the boys' bedroom a few minutes after twelve. Cecilia took one look at his pale face and watery eyes, and asked, "What's wrong, A.J.?"
"I don't feel good."
"What hurts, sweetheart?"
"Everything," came the teary reply.
Cecilia placed her hand on A.J.'s forehead and looked in his throat to feel and see the same symptoms she had with Rick a few days earlier. She helped her youngest undress and got him settled in bed, too. As rotten as Rick was feeling, he did manage to find a bright spot in all of this as he said, "Good. At least now I'll have some company."
Cecilia had rolled her eyes and said a little prayer for stamina as she left the room to get more children's aspirin, cold drinks, and another cold cloth. Up until that point she’d been lucky. Except for a few minor colds, her boys had never been ill at the same time before. Cecilia could tell her luck was about to run out, and not at a good time either. She had already been up the previous night with Rick, whose temperature had hit 103. Between that, constant trips up the stairs to tend to Rick, keeping the house in order, cooking, and doing laundry, Cecilia couldn't deny she was on the verge of exhaustion.
The young mother spent the remainder of that week caring for two very sick boys. The rash that proved the boys did have the measles, and restored Cecilia's faith in their family doctor, finally broke out on Rick on Friday morning, and broke out on A.J. twenty-fours after that.
Cecilia wouldn’t ever forget that Thursday night when both the boys were running high temperatures, Rick's at 102 and A.J.'s at 104. She and Jack were up with them all night, trying to get them cooled down. Jack had been fearful that one of them would start convulsing, so he kept helping them into and a tub of water cool when needed.
The boys finally fallen asleep around seven o'clock that next morning, as their bleary-eyed parents drank coffee in an effort to wake up. Jack had to go to work, and Cecilia had household chores to tackle. With the boys being so ill, last night's supper dishes had gone undone, and she had a pile of bed sheets and pajamas that had to be washed.
As Jack kissed his wife good-bye that morning, he promised, "I'll try to get away early so I can help you with the boys, hon. If their temperatures climb as high as they were last night, call me and I'll come home. You can't handle that by yourself.”
Cecilia nodded in agreement as she pressed a grocery list in her husband's hand. "Stop at the store on your way home, Jack, and pick up these things for me, please. I can see I won't get out again today to do any shopping. We're running low on milk and juice."
"All right. I'll get some ice cream, too. At least they seem to be eating that, if nothing else."
Cecilia spent the day in an exhausted daze. She craved a nap, but never got one for fear she’d fall into such a deep level of sleep that she wouldn’t hear the boys if they called for her. In the end, she was glad she forced herself to stay awake. A.J. threw up all over his bed, and not only needed his mother to clean up the mess, but also needed her to dry his tears and assure him that everything was okay, and that he’d feel better soon.
Cecilia was finally able to get some sleep on Saturday. The boys were feeling well enough to be up and about, so Jack insisted that his wife sleep for as long as she liked.
“I’ll play nurse today, Cece.”
The boys thought that was funny. A.J. spent the day calling his father ‘Nurse Daddy’ and giggling over his joke.
Jack kept the boys occupied with games and stories. After lunch, he even managed to get them to take a nap. Jack fell asleep on the living room floor with a son curled up on each side of him, a brunette head resting on one shoulder, a blond head on the other.
That's how Cecilia found her men when she came downstairs at two o’clock that afternoon. She didn’t disturb them, but instead went to the kitchen and ate lunch while reading the newspaper. After the week she’d had, the woman decided she’d enjoy her quiet house for as long as possible.
Later that evening, Rick and A.J. were up in their room playing with their toy soldiers. Jack walked in and whispered, "Hey, guys, I need you to sign your names on this card for Mommy."
Jack opened the Valentines Day card he had in his hand and gave Rick a pen. Rick wrote his name, then A.J. printed his initials in big block letters.
"Now this is our secret,” Jack said. “Don't tell Mom about this card. We'll give it to her at breakfast tomorrow morning."
The boys nodded their heads in agreement at their father's request. After Jack left the room and the boys had turned back to their platoons, Rick commented, "Tomorrow's Valentines Day. I suppose Mom and Dad will spend the whole day bein' mushy and kissy and junk like that. "
A.J. agreed. "Yeah, yuk!" Then in a forlorn tone added, "We were supposed have a party in my class yesterday with cards and candy and everything, but I missed it."
"Yeah, my class was supposed to have a party, too, but I don't care. I don't wanna give stupid old cards to a bunch of dumb girls anyway."
"Me, either," A.J. responded, changing his tune from moments earlier in an effort to be just like his big brother. "I was going to make a card for Mommy though, Mrs. Hansen promised. The whole class was going to make cards. I was supposed to give my card to Mommy at breakfast tomorrow morning. Mrs. Hansen said so."
"I guess it would be okay to make a card for Mom. I did that in the kindergarten, too. She's not really a girl anyway. She's just a mom, so that's different." Rick thought further, then suggested, "You know, A. J., we could make a card for Mom right now. Then we can give it to her in the morning at breakfast just like you wanted to."
"Really, Rick? Can we?"
"Sure, we got crayons, and paste, and scissors, in our desk drawer, and I know where there's some construction paper. You get the crayons and other stuff. I'll be right back."
Rick scurried out of the bedroom. When he returned he had sheets of red and white construction paper in his hand that he’d gotten out of a drawer in the kitchen.
“Did Mommy see you take those?”
“Nope. She and Dad are in the basement hangin’ that shelf Dad built for her. I snuck in the kitchen and snuck back out.”
“Good, ‘cause it’s gotta be a secret.”
“Yeah,” Rick agreed, as he and A.J. shared the chair that sat in front of their maple desk.
The boys spent the next thirty minutes coming up with ideas while cutting out paper hearts. Rick kept rejecting the ones he didn't like until he finally drew and cut one he declared perfect. A.J. nodded his head in agreement.
The boys were so engrossed with their project that they almost didn’t hear their mother coming up the stairs.
"Rick, A.J., it's time you both get ready for bed!"
Rick ran over and slammed the door. He flung his back against it and called, "You can't come in here, Mom!"
"Why not?" Cecilia questioned from the other side of the door.
“Just ‘cause you can’t.”
Cecilia wouldn't accept that answer from her oldest son. Now that Rick was feeling better, God only knew what he was up to.
“Richard Simon, let me in.”
"Mom, please, it’s a surprise. Please.”
A.J. joined his brother, adding his weight to the door. “Mommy, it’s a surprise! You can’t come in.” Then the five year old almost gave it all away by saying, “But we’re not making anything for you. Tomorrow’s not Valenti...”
Cecilia could tell Rick had clamped his hand over A.J.'s mouth, and she heard him hiss, "Be quiet, A. J., you'll ruin everything."
Cecilia managed not to laugh as she tactfully ignored the goings on in that bedroom. "Okay, a half hour more. Will that be enough time?"
The next thirty minutes was spent printing a verse on the big red heart. Rick and A.J. took turns, A.J. printing what few words he knew how to spell of the verse Rick had composed himself. The finishing touches of white crayon hearts were added as a border, and then it was hidden away before Cecilia came up to tell the boys to pick up their toys get ready for bed.
The next morning Jack was up before the rest of the family, making breakfast as he did every Sunday. The boys appeared before Cecilia came down and put their card under her plate without their dad seeing the gesture. When Cecilia came into the kitchen ten minutes later, she found three roses at her place as she did every Valentines Day. One was red and two were white, and there was a card to go along with the roses that was signed, For My One And Only Valentine. Love Always, Jack.
Underneath that Jack had printed, We Love You, Mom, and then the boys had signed their own names, Rick in his sloppy cursive, and A.J. in big bold printing with the J threatening to fall over sideways.
Cecilia thanked her husband and sons for their thoughtfulness, and then opened a small package wrapped with red paper that was for her from Jack. She exclaimed over the gold necklace she found inside, one that she had long admired in a local jewelry store, but felt was too expensive.
By the time Cecilia had opened her gift and thanked her husband with a kiss, A.J. was jumping up and down. "Mommy, Mommy, look under your plate!”
"Look under my plate. Why?” Cecilia teased. “Did you boys hide a spider there?"
"No, just look," A. J. urged.
"No, Mommy. Please look."
"Yeah, Mom, come on, look under your plate. A.J.'s gonna wet his pants if you don’t.”
Jack laughed at his sons while watching Cecilia as she did what Rick and A.J. had instructed. The woman pulled out the red construction paper heart that had smaller white hearts drawn in crayon all around its border by childish hands. A.J. couldn't stand it anymore as he pointed to the white hearts on the right side of the paper.
"I drew these, Mommy,” A.J. said, then pointed to Rick's artwork on the left hand side of the card. “And Rick drew these.”
"Oh, boys, you both did such a good job. What a beautiful card! I don't think I've ever received a card this nice before."
Rick and A.J. beamed with pride at their mother's words.
"Jack, listen to this beautiful verse the boys printed on here.”
Jack did as his wife requested as she read, “You love us when we're sick. You love us when we're well. Mom, we really, really think you're swell. We love you, Rick and A.J.”
Jack had to turn away to hide his grin and to keep from laughing. When he regained control, he praised, "That is a beautiful verse. And what a lovely card," he said as he took it from his wife and studied it closer. "I bet you boys spent a lot of time on this.”
"Rick thought up the words, Daddy, but I wrote the ones I could spell. I can spell l-o-v-e. Rick helped me. I wrote my own name, too.”
"Yes, I can tell, Andy. You did a great job. And I see we have a budding poet in our midst, Mommy, and we never even knew it. That's a wonderful verse, Rick."
The ten year old blushed. "Aw, it was nothin.’"
"Well, I think it's something. Something very special,"
Cecilia said as she pulled both her boys to her in a hug and thought, It's the little things like this that make all those sleepless nights worth it.
That morning ended with Jack getting the camera and taking a picture of his sons and their mother. Cecilia had an arm around each of her boys, holding them close as she held up their card with her right hand. Anyone else might have wondered why Jack wasted film on such a picture. You could barely tell it was a card Cecilia was holding, and she was still dressed in her robe. Likewise, the boys in their pajamas yet and covered with measles. It certainly wasn’t an award-winning photo by any means, though to Cecilia it was. Even over thirty years later, whenever she came across that picture in the photo album, she couldn't help but think, You love us when we’re sick. You love us when we’re well. Mom, we really, really think you're swell.
After that, she’d often take the card out of the folder where she kept her sons’ artwork from days gone by. It still retained the grainy feel all construction had, and the wax from the crayons still smelled as though the small white hearts had been drawn just yesterday. But most of all, the feeling of love that had gone into the making of that card was retained, and reminded Cecilia once again, that motherhood was well worth the trials and tribulations that came with it.
Cecilia's thoughts returned to the present when she noticed A.J. shifting restlessly. She stood and crossed the small space to his bedside. In his half-conscious state, A.J. moaned when he started to roll onto his left arm.
"A.J., don't move around. You'll hurt yourself. Wake up. Sweetheart, wake up."
The sound of Cecilia’s voice, and her touch on his right forearm, brought A.J. to full awareness.
"Hi," he rasped in a groggy tone, his throat irritated from the breathing tube that had been put in for surgery. "What time’z it?"
Cecilia glanced at her watch. "Four forty-five. How are you feeling?"
"Like I've been run over by a garbage truck."
"Well, I’d say that that's pretty close to what happened."
"I don't suppose there's anything left of my car?"
"I haven't seen it yet, but from what Abby tells me, the answer is no."
Tears caused by stress, anxiety, and exhaustion, sprang to Cecilia's eyes.
"A.J., the car doesn't matter. It can be replaced. What matters is that you and Rick are all right. It's a miracle that both of you weren't seriously injured."
A.J. reached up with his right hand and pulled his mother down for a hug. "Mom, don't cry. Come on now, I know the car doesn't matter. Don't cry."
Cecilia hugged her son, then pulled away and wiped her eyes with a Kleenex she plucked from a box on the nightstand.
A.J. looked at his sleeping brother and asked, "How's Rick doing?"
"Fine. He's been responding like he should be. The nurse was just in here at four and woke him. She said since he's been doing so well she wouldn't wake him again until six. Prior to that she had been waking him every hour, so I think that's good news."
"Sounds like it.”
"He has been complaining of a bad headache, but the nurse said that's normal with his injury. He really smacked his head on something."
"The dashboard," A.J. supplied, as he recalled the accident. Unlike Rick, A.J. had never lost consciousness. Therefore, the entire time he and his brother were pinned in the car, A.J. was trying to stop the flow of blood from the gash on Rick's head. It took the fire department fifteen minutes to get the brothers free - fifteen minutes A.J. spent dealing with his own pain, as well as the fear that Rick was seriously injured.
Upon reaching the hospital, A.J. was adamant about not being taken to surgery until a doctor could tell him something of his brother's condition. A.J. finally calmed down and cooperated after Raj talked to him and assured A.J. his brother’s vital signs were strong, though Rick was still unconscious at that time.
A.J. had arrived from the recovery room to share this room with Rick, at ten-thirty that night. He was sedated, but woke up enough to mumble, "How's Rick?" A.J. heard his mother tell him that Rick had regained consciousness earlier in the evening, and was now sleeping peacefully. That was all the blond heard before succumbing to sleep, as well.
"Don't worry about Rick, honey. In a couple of days he'll be as ornery as ever. By the time Raj releases him, the nurses will be happy to see him go."
A.J. smiled despite his pain. "Yeah, you're right, Mom. Say, can I get moved to a private room before he gets ornery? I hate sharing a room with him when he's sick. He's a lousy patient."
Cecilia chuckled. "Yes, he is. He always has been. But no, Andrew, you can’t be moved to a private room. Your mother has enough work cut out for her with you two sharing the same hospital room. I’m not going to run between two rooms."
It was A.J. 's turn to chuckle, before sobering while observing his mother. "Mom, you really look wiped out. Why don't you go home now? We'll both be fine."
"No. I'm staying until Raj makes his rounds. I'll go home after he leaves.”
Cecilia pointed a stern finger. “Don't argue with me about it. Your brother's tried to every time he's been awake, and it hasn't done him any good, so it won't do you any good either."
"If you’re going to stay until Raj makes rounds, at least call Abby and ask her to take you home. You'll be too tired to drive."
Cecilia smiled at A.J. 's protectiveness. Her sons could be overly solicitous at times, just like all good sons were overly solicitous of their mothers.
"I think I can drive, sweetheart. But if I am feeling too tired by then, I'll call Abby, or Edie, or your Aunt Pat, and have one of them pick me up. All right?"
"I need to go out to the nurses' station and let them know you're awake. Can I get you anything?"
"Maybe something to drink. Some juice if they'll let me have it. And could you see if I could get another blanket? I'm kind of cold."
"I'll see what I can do. I'll be back in a few minutes."
Cecilia walked out to the hallway, her tired eyes once again assaulted by the bright lights. Overlooking her weariness, she again thought of all the times when her sons were sick during their youth, and all the errands she’d run for juice, and blankets, and books, and crayons.
At least I won't be sent for crayons this time.
Pam returned to the room with Cecilia. After checking A.J.’s vital signs, she assured Cecilia he was doing well and should now get some additional sleep. Pam checked on the slumbering Rick as well. She told Cecilia and A.J. all was fine with him, too. Cecilia covered A.J. with an extra blanket, then helped him raise the head of his bed up far enough so he could take a few swallows of juice.
"You'd better try to get some more sleep now," Cecilia urged, while tossing the empty plastic cup in the garbage can.
A.J. settled into his pillows, then said, "Oh, by the way, Happy Valentines Day, Mrs. Simon."
"Thank you, sweetheart. Happy Valentines Day to you, too. "
"Sorry about all of this, Mom. This wasn't how the day was supposed to be."
Cecilia brushed A.J.’s hair off of his forehead. "How was it supposed to be?"
"I was going to stop by the house before I went to work and take you to breakfast."
"That would have been a wonderful surprise, but that's all right. My Valentines Day present is having you two boys here with me safely today."
"I had a card for you, too, but it was in the car. There's probably nothing left of it, if we can even find it," A.J. said, sounding faintly like the five year old from years before who was upset because he hadn't gotten to make a card for his mother with the rest of his class.
"Don't worry about it, sweetheart. It's the thought that counts."
"At least one good thing came out of this accident,” A.J. told his mother. “It saved you from getting the present Rick had for you."
"What was that?"
"He was going to give you that stupid statue he has that he thinks is worth so much money. You know, the one of the naked, pregnant African woman with the ‘Made in Taiwan’ sticker on the bottom."
"Oh...that statue. You're right, A.J., something good did come out of this accident," Cecilia said with dry sarcasm. “Speaking of Valentines Day, I was sitting here tonight thinking of that Valentines Day when you boys had the measles. Do you remember that?"
"Boy, do I ever. We were two sick kids."
"Yes, you were."
"Lucky for us we had a beautiful nurse who took care of us and got us well again," A.J. said with a teasing smile.
Cecilia smiled back. "You had a tired nurse, and a tired Daddy, too. Between the two of you, I think Dad and I were up three nights in a row, all night long."
A.J. nodded, just barely able to remember the two weary parents who had devoted so much time and worry to their sick little boys.
"Do you remember the card you and Rick made for me that Valentines Day?"
"Vaguely. I suppose you still have it?"
"Of course, I do. Do you remember what it said?"
"No," A.J. replied as he yawned.
"It said, ‘You love us when we're sick, you love us when we're well. Mom, we really, really think you're swell.’"
A.J. laughed at his mother's words, and the memories that came along with them. “That Rick was a clever little bugger, wasn't he, Mom?”
"I thought so. I thought it was a very clever verse for a ten year old to compose."
A.J. smiled "Don't tell Rick this, but I did, too. I suggested we write, ‘We love you, Mommy,’ on the card, but Rick said no, it had to have a lot of words on it like a real card did. When he came up with that verse, I thought he was the smartest big brother a little kid could have.
"Your secret's safe with me, but I have a feeling your big brother already knows that you think he's clever."
To stall A.J. 's protests over that sentence, Cecilia bent and kissed his cheek. "Regardless, it was a beautiful card. Now go back to sleep. You can hardly keep your eyes open."
A.J. returned his mother's kiss, and mumbled in a groggy voice, "I love you. Happy Valentines Day."
"I love you, too. Both of you," Cecilia said to her now sleeping youngest. She walked over and gave the sleeping Rick a Valentines kiss, too, before once again returning to her chair, and her mother’s vigil.
Two days later, Cecilia Simon walked down the hospital corridor toward her sons' room, having just arrived for the start of visiting hours. She had caught up on her sleep since the accident. Her sons were progressing well, and were schedule to be released the next morning.
Before Cecilia got in the room, she could hear the argument coming from within. The disagreement came as no surprise. As soon as her sons had started feeling better, the bickering had begun.
"Rick, would you turn that damn T.V. down? You're not deaf!"
"I've got it so low already I can hardly hear it! You're just bein' picky 'cause you've got your nose in a book!"
"It wouldn't hurt you to read something besides Playboy once in a while."
"A.J., I swear, I can arrange for you to have your other arm in a cast. Just keep naggin’ at me and I’ll--”
Cecilia entered the room, seeing the two invalids in their beds, squared off for combat. "Boys, for Heaven's sake this is a hospital, not a boxing ring. You two never gave me half this much trouble when you were little. I guess I should have had them put you in two separate rooms."
"That'd be okay with me, Mom. I hate sharin' a room with Mr. Picky," Rick grumbled as he accepted his mother's kiss.
"It would be okay with me, too, Mom,” A.J. said, as he was kissed on the cheek, too. “All Rick does is watch that damn TV and hit on every nurse that walks in the door."
"I do not!"
"You do too!"
"Boys, stop it now!"
Peace finally reigned, as usually happened after Cecilia intervened. Rick aimed the remote control at the television and shut it off. Cecilia opened her purse and took out the Simon and Simon office mail and handed it to A.J., then handed him the mail she’d collected from his home. She turned to Rick and gave him the mail she’d picked up from his boat.
“Yeah,” Rick said, “thank, Mom. How’s Rex?”
“He’s fine. I took him for a walk before I came here. Last I saw him, he was eyeing my sofa. By now he’s probably sleeping on it, even though I told him it was off limits.”
“I told his master the same thing for years,” A.J. said, in reference to the days when Rick’s boat, the Hole in the Water, was moored in his backyard, “but he never listened either.”
“Hey, I didn’t sleep on your couch nearly as much as you make it sound every time the subject comes--”_
Before another argument could break out Cecilia took note of the bouquet of a dozen red roses among the other floral arrangements her sons had received since the accident. She leaned over the nightstand and took in their aroma.
"What beautiful roses. Who sent you boys these?"
"Nobody sent them to us," Rick informed his mother with a twinkle in his eye.
At Cecilia's puzzled look, A.J. said, "Those came today for you, Mom."
Cecilia looked more closely at the roses. She spotted an envelope propped up in the greenery that read, Mrs. Cecilia Simon. She plucked the envelope from its plastic holder and used a finger to break the seal.
"I wonder who could have sent these to me? And especially here?"
"I don't know,” Rick said. “I guess somebody must know you've been spendin' more time here lately than at home."
Cecilia pulled out the card. Tears filled her eyes as she read the words printed on it.
You love us when we’re sick,
You love us when we’re well,
Mom, we really, really think you’re swell.
We Love You, Mom,
Rick and A.J.
"Hey, don't cry," Rick protested, as his mother wrapped her arms around him and kissed him. “Those weren’t supposed to make you cry.”
As Cecilia did the same to A.J. a moment later, he reiterated his brother’s words.
"Come on, Mom, don't cry. Rick and I just wanted to say thanks for being here for us, and for putting up with us."
Cecilia didn't say anything for a minute, then was able to compose herself as her youngest released her. She smiled at her sons while wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.
"Thank you. It's still a beautiful verse. The most beautiful verse anyone could ever write for me."
"That's because I’m the smart brother," Rick announced.
"You are not!"
"I am too!"
"Are not! I know for a fact, that you don't even read the articles in Playboy. You just look at the pictures."
"I do not!"
"You do too!"
Cecilia ignored her bickering sons as she stood looking at the roses that were so vibrantly red and in full bloom.
No matter what they put me through, they're worth it. Rick and A.J. have made motherhood worth every sleepless night I've endured. Cecilia Simon, you are one lucky lady.
Cecilia Simon was indeed, one lucky lady. And one smart lady, too, because while the argument between her children ensued, Cecilia picked up the vase that contained her roses and headed for home, where she’d enjoy the tranquility a busy mother deserved.