Friendship was always important to Robert, who faithfully kept every letter, card and note ever written to him. Study notes show how the artist planned the image Visitors to be divided into three sections, right, left and center, each conveying different emotions or reactions to the patient’s situation. These emotions vary from anger, confrontation, denial, resignation, reconciliation and sharing. Everyone has their say except the patient who is shown as a headless torso. Yet the patient reaches out to accept the gift of a book. Robert asked fellow artist and friend Glenn MacKinnon to pose for a figure on both sides of the bed (he’s the angry man, as well as the man who’s quietly reading) to suggest that all of these emotions are felt by each of us at different times. Robert’s parents, Isabel and Bill, sit at the foot of the bed in the center of the image. The other figures were posed for by people in Robert’s life so the painting serves as a tribute to Robert’s friends and celebrates their loyalty and sense of community. The newspaper beside the bed has a headline announcing “Fishery May Sink.” This refers to the collapse of cod fishing off Nova Scotia’s shores due to over-fishing, mismanagement and pollution. Economic and environmental forces bring stress to people’s lives and ultimately affect their health.