Many years ago I had a boyfriend who, after we’d made an arrangement to see a film or go out for a meal or whatever, would frequently phone and say: ‘Slight change of plan …’ It would turn out that there was a different film he wanted to see, or his sister had invited us round for a meal, or something else had cropped up which meant he needed to change the arrangements.
Life has an unfortunate tendency to do the same thing. Last week I was pottering along, doing the things I usually do, and I phoned one of my neighbours to ask if she needed any shopping. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks, now; she’s 89 and her husband’s no longer allowed to drive because of a heart condition. She used to come shopping with me every week, but she has an arthritic hip and recently it’s been too painful for her to make the effort.
I’d noticed her daughter’s car was still there. I knew she’d been due to come for the weekend, but I was concerned to see her car still there two or three days later. So I phoned, to discover that my neighbour’s husband had fallen and her daughter couldn’t get him up again. She phoned for an ambulance and it transpired that he’d broken his hip, so off he went to hospital.
The following day I had a phone call from my neighbour’s daughter to say that her mother had fallen. She’d hit her head on the fireplace as she fell and needed a couple of stitches so off she went to hospital, as well.
They are both still there because they’re going to give my neighbour a scan to check exactly what’s wrong with her leg. Her husband had a stroke some years ago and they haven’t told him she’s in hospital because he would probably go frantic with worry. So their daughter, who’s a teacher, has suddenly found herself with both parents in hospital, running from one ward to another, hardly knowing whether she’s coming or going. Fortunately, her school is being very supportive and has got cover for her so at least she doesn’t need to worry about work.
Her friends are rallying round, and we’ll all do our best to support her, but the next few weeks are not likely to be easy for her or her parents.
Meanwhile, the starlings continue to darken our evening skies; we gaze in horror at the pictures of devastation in Japan on our television screens; and my garden continues to bloom.