I have a close friend in the next state. She is a little older than me but looks much older than that because of her almost albino colouring and her severe arthritis.
Whenever we have lived in close physical proximity - London, Canberra and Melbourne - I have been conscious of the fact that there were likely to be problems ahead. The problems at first were minor but, over the last few years, they have become major.
My friend has a doctorate. She has taught at university level. She is intellectually capable of dealing with the twenty-first century. She is not capable of dealing with the real world. By her own admission she is "not practical".
We have been in the habit of talking on the 'phone about once a month. Her sister lives not far from us and I catch up on any other news if I happen to see her.
This last year my friend has been in and out of hospital on numerous occasions. On one occasions she fell and cracked her pelvis. It could have been much worse. It should have been a warning but, like any of us, my friend did not want to admit that she could not cope alone.
Her sister went to visit for Christmas. At the end of December we had our usual long chat. Then there was silence. Her sister, who also lives alone, was not home. I assumed she was with my friend. The 'phone was not answered. My friend's e-mail bounced.
A week ago the 'phone was cut off. I had still heard nothing. Her sister was still not home. The note I had left had not been touched. A neighbour in the same block of units thought she was away.
Just before lunch yesterday her sister 'phoned me. Yes, back in hospital. This time she would not be going home. Here was the number. She was sorry she had not contacted me as my friend had requested but she really did not know what to do next. She is no more practical than her sister.
This bothers me. They are both highly intelligent but they cannot handle daily life at all. I know I am not good at handling all aspects of daily life - nobody is - but I hope I am better than they are.
My friend has decided she needs to come back to this state. Her sister is her only immediate relative but she has a cousin here - and she has me.
"You know how to do things," she told me when I 'phoned the hospital. I am not sure I do know. I certainly do not know all I need to know.
What I do know though is to ask questions when I do not know.