rang a number of times yesterday. It was not all queries or requests for help and it was not all good news. One call was to say that an elderly friend of ours had been taken to hospital after a stroke.
In one way such news is never a surprise. When someone is 87 there is always the possibility of a medical incident. People fall and break a hip. They need eye surgery. Some long standing medical condition that has not been too much trouble up until then will flare up.
This friend has been very active. Up until twelve months ago she was the one "cooking meals for old people" and looking after several refugee families. Her husband is 91 and it has been much the same story for him - despite chronic leukaemia and diabetes.
They were born on what we call "the West Coast" - which is, confusingly, really the southern coast but both inland and in the west of the state. It is dry over there. The farming, which is what they did, is almost subsistence farming. When they farmed they did not have the modern conveniences apart from a party line telephone. Eventually he sold the farm and they moved closer to the city and ran a church owned 'colony' for men with alcohol problems south of Adelaide. On retirement he drove trucks for the church charity. She cooked meals, dispensed practical advice and assistance, cared for family, neighbours and strangers. Occasionally they would take time out and go away in their small caravan. The big caravan parks were not for them. They would camp 'in the bush' or at the side of the road. Even last year they drove the hundreds of kilometres to their old West Coast community for a wedding.
She is apparently recovering but we all know things will not be the same again. Life may not cease but it will slow down. Their eldest daughter has come from interstate. I do not doubt there will now be talk about what happens next. Is it time to let someone else start caring more about them?