burning," a local resident said and then she hugged me, "Oh Cat, I have been trying to get around to see you and your father."
"We haven't liked to interrupt," I told her, "I have been keeping up with the news when I see N (her husband) on his walks."
"Yes, I know."
"And it does get to the point where you just don't want to answer the phone and respond to another question about how things are."
"Tell me about it," she said and hugged me again, "That's so thoughtful of you."
I had finally seen her in the shopping centre. We talked. I was late home. My father was getting anxious and I was sorry about that but he was more than forgiving when I explained what I had been doing.
There is a fine line between being concerned and being interfering. In this case my father and I have been able to show our concern by talking to this woman's husband. He goes on a doctor ordered walk each morning. He and I sometimes coincide and he can let me have the latest news as they struggle with a combination of ill health and mental illness in the family. It has been an enormous load for them. It is time consuming as well as mentally and physically draining.
They know we care and that we would do something if we could but we made the conscious decision not to phone. N keeps us up to date when I see him. That has to be enough. I left a jar of marmalade on the doorstep earlier in the year. I hope there will be enough fruit to share soon. That seems to me to be a good deal more practical.
If she lived closer I would do the same thing for another friend whose husband is now fully dependent on her for everything. He has a motor neurone disorder and cannot even speak. It is never really a convenient time to phone her and say, "How are you?" There is always something to be done in that household.
I worried about that until I realised that sending her a note in the post occasionally was something she appreciated much more. It told her somebody cared enough to get in touch but she did not have to respond to the inevitable litany of questions.
It is "being there" for other people that matters. There are ways of being concerned without being interfering.