Stuff to bring:
1. Your game face
2. Clothing for dressing in layers-the temperatures of airplanes, hospitals, and foreign states vary widely.
3. Pictures of your young daughter, son, or cat that he has only met once-guilt has healing properties.
4. Your book/IPod/cell phone/laptop/knitting-waiting around takes up a lot of time.
5. A full cast recording of Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy-Keeps the mood light as you fly through the thin air of the Earth's higher atmosphere into an unfamiliar universe where your parents are suddenly mortal, and you have the power to consent to life-and-death procedures about which you know next to nothing.
Sub list- Songs not to listen to as you fly a shuddering airplane away from your young child and toward your possibly dying father:
-Freefalling, Tom Petty
-Dust in the Wind, Kansas
-Spirit in the Sky
-Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin
-Porcelain/Wait for Me/Pale Horses, Moby
-My Father's Eyes/Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton
-Bittersweet Symphony, The Verve
-Radiohead (just too emotionally confusing)
Sub list #2-Songs that are OK:
-Everybody Hurts (So hold on...), R.E.M.
-Aerodynamic, Daft Punk
-Beautiful Day, U2
-All is Full of Love, Bjork
-Lord of the Rings Soundtrack (gives one the sensation of going on an epic quest)
6. Nice shirts and clean pants...business casual if you can swing it. (Doctors statistically give out 27% more info with 14% less condescension to those who appear to engage in business casually.)
7. A graphing calculator, protractor, scratch paper, and a math major prepared to assist in the moment-to-moment calculation of your dad's chances of survival, based on the string of seemingly arbitrary but in fact highly scientific percentages given out by medical professionals over the course of his stay in the ICU.
9. A notebook-you will inevitably be filled with deep thoughts concerning mortality, your childhood, unfinished business with your parent(s), resolve over being a better parent yourself, etc. Your deep thoughts may occur in nebulous fogs floating through your head, or they may occur in lists. Either way, writing down your musings of staggering import and originality sometimes helps you feel better. Also, the awkward way people avoid your eyes after looking over your shoulder and reading "How to Pack for Your Dad's Heart Attack" is amusing.