A PROBLEM SHARED IS A PROBLEM HALVED.
Last weekend a friend phoned to ask if we could meet up within a couple of hours, apologizing for the short notice of the invitation. There was an urgency in her voice, which I felt I should respond to. It was, I found out, one of those family complexities that churn you up and make you feel guilty. She needed to talk about it.
On her return from a week's holiday, she discovered her mum had been admitted to hospital and was in for a long stay, at least six weeks. Friend's brother lives with mum in the next town, twenty miles away, close to where the hospital is. His place of work is nearby. Friend started visiting mum in the evenings, when her working day was over, (Friend works full time) making the 40 miles round trip to do so. Her daughter started visiting, using the infrequent buses, on the one day a week when she was not required in college.
Two problems arose. Mum wanted some specific things from her own home and a large order of toiletries. Mum instructed Friend to obtain money from the brother for the purchases, plus some extra money for her to have with her in hospital. Brother refused to give Friend any money at all, she said did not know why. She decided mother and son could sort out that issue between themselves. On the other hand brother required Friend to check mum's pension entitlements while she was in hospital for such a long stay. Mum was resistant to this.
Next, Friend received a phone call from her brother to say he was calling from Gatwick Airport, (about 800 miles South of home) and that Friend had got to visit their mother twice a day, for a week, afternoon and evening, while he was away. I believe she may have reminded her brother of the realities of life and the demands of work.
With any luck, by the time we'd parted, Friend accepted that she could only do what was possible. She had some fresh ideas about obtaining information and the handling of it. She also seemed much brighter. It is said, "a problem shared is a problem halved". Let's hope so.