Waiting is an art form in itself.
I was taught "waiting" at the convent primary school I went to: standing in line waiting for school dinners. I can remember that we lined up in a maze of interconnecting corridors that ended in the dining room. We were allowed to chat in whispers, but were expected to stand still and not mill around or swap places.
The reward for such patience was mixed: it might be something really good, and ending with sponge pudding and custard. It might be spinach, slimy and gritty, or "red" cabbage, boiled to a pale dove grey stringiness. The convent grew acres and ACRES of spinach and red cabbage. I used to see them in threatening rows in the vegetable garden, my heart sinking as I contemplated forthcoming harvest.
Being able to sit and wait patiently is a valuable skill. However, it throws you upon your own resources, especially if you haven't brought anything to fill the time.
I'm a great one for chatting to whoever is sitting next to me, if we are both feeling sociable. Otherwise, I might use the time to plan things - menus, Christmas present lists, lesson plans, holiday plans. It is easier to make lists if I have pencil and paper, otherwise thing fall out of my mind as fast as I try and slot them in.
Sometimes I "play" music through in my head, or revisit favourite places or walks.
I went through a phase of trying to learn poetry, but this is not a skill that I have developed to any great level. Like learning songs, I know the tunes but not the words. Most of the songs I have learnt are the ones I teach all the time: "Bee, bee, bumble bee, stung a man upon his knee, stung a pig upon his snout, I say you're out" or "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, wish I may, wish I might, have the wish I see tonight". Short, and quite sweet, but hardly "literature"!
My mother is having to spend hours and hours just waiting. During the day there is a fair bit going on - doctor's rounds, observations, physio, speech therapy, occupational therapy fills a certain amount of time, but in between, and in wakeful night-time hours she is thrown on her own resources. I wasn't able to visit her today, but I heard that she was moved from her bed to the chair for a while. That will have made it easier to see what was happening around her. She had a go at reading a book, and has asked for a "Good Food" magazine. The CD player and headphones have made a great difference, and the steady stream of get well cards is very, very important. I am telling everyone to keep them coming. Next week, and the week after is when they will bring a welcome breath of the outside world into the slow, constant, unchanging rhythm of hospital life.