There were nearly two hours of helpless anguish and fright before the doctor arrived. During that time it is possible that Ralph suffered more acutely than anyone else. For besides suffering, or believing that he suffered, all the pains that his father must be experiencing, and all of his mother’s grief and anxiety, and all of the smaller emotions of all the smaller people who were present, he suffered deep humiliation. When he rushed in and swept his mother into his arms he felt that his voice and his whole manner were all that they ought to be label printer supplier; that he showed himself to be a man who, despite his own boundless grief, was capable also of boundless strength to sustain others in their grief, and to take complete charge of all that needed to be done.
But even in that first embrace he could see that his mother was her desire to draw away from him. He came near her over and over again, hugging her, sobbing over her, fondling her, telling her that she must be brave, telling her she must not try to be brave, to lean on him, and cry her heart out, for naturally at such a time she would want to feel her sons close around her; but every time, he felt that same patient stiffening and her voice perplexed him. Everyone in the room, even Ralph in the long run, knew that he was only making things harder for her; only his mother realized that he was beseeching comfort rather than bringing it. She was not in the least angry with him; she was sorry for him and wished that she could be of more help to him, but her mind was not on him autism treatment, her heart was not with him, and his sobs and the stench of his breath made her a little sick at her stomach. What perplexed him in her voice was its remoteness. He began to realize that he was bringing her no comfort, that she was not leaning on him, that just as he had always feared, she did not really love him. He redoubled his efforts to soothe her and to be strong for her. The harder he tried, the more remote her voice became. At the end of a half hour her face was no less desperate than it had been when he first saw her. And he began to feel that everyone else was watching him, and knew he was no use, and that his mother did not love him. The women watched him one way, the men watched him another. He felt that his wife was thinking ill of him, that she was not even sorry for him; he felt slobbering and fat, the way she looked at him and suddenly with terrible hatred was sure that she would miniso prefer to sleep with flat-bellied men—what man? Any man, so long as his belly don’t get in the way. As for Jessie, he knew she had always hated him, as much as he hated her. And George Bailey just sitting there looking serious and barrel-chested and always being careful to look away when their eyes met: George thought he was twice the man that Ralph was and twice as good right at this time, better with his in-laws than Ralph could be with his own flesh and blood; and they all knew that George was twice the man and were just trying not to say it or think it even, or let Ralph know they thought it. And even Thomas Oaks, an ignorant hand, who couldn’t even read or write, just setting there with his ropy hands hung between his knees, staring down at a knot in the floor with those washed-out blue eyes, even Tom was more of a man and more good use too.
When Tom got up and said if there wasn’t nothing he could do he reckoned he would get on up to the loft, but if there was anything, they would just let him know, Ralph understood it. He knew Tom might be ignorant but he wasn’t so ignorant but he knew when it was best to leave a family to itself; and when Ralph’s mother said, “All right, Tom,” Ralph heard more life and kindness, and more gratefulness in her voice, than in every word she’d said to him, the whole night; and as he watched Tom climb the ladder, heavily and quietly, rung by rung, he thought: there goes more of a man than I am, he knows how to take himself out of the way, and he thought: he’s doing a power more good by going than I can by staying, and he thought: every soul in this room wishes it was me that was going, instead of him, and he called, in a voice which sounded unfriendly, though he had meant to make it sound friendly to everyone except Tom, “That’s right, Tom, get ye some sleep”; and Tom pulled his head back through the ceiling and looked down at him with those empty blue eyes and said, “That’s all right, Mr. Ralph,” and suddenly Ralph realized that he had no intention of sleeping and would be there alone, not sleeping a wink, just ready in case he was needed; and that Tom had seen his malice, his desire to belittle him, and had belittled him instead, before his mother and his wife and his dying father. “That’s all right, Mr. Ralph.” What’s all right? What’s all right? He wanted to yell it at him, “What’s all right, you poor-white-trash son-of-a-bitch?” but he restrained himself.