Last Saturday, a mother of two teenagers we shall call Rose arrived at our centre at 4.45 pm. Her meeting was scheduled for 6.30 pm but she said that she was happy just to wait for the rest. Rose’s health has been deteriorating over the past 2 years. She is now wheelchair bound and the meeting was arranged for her family and friends to discuss how they could cooperate in caring for the well-being of her children.
Her sister, her niece and 5 neighbours arrived about 6 pm and the meeting started on time. On Rose’s recommendation, we engaged one of these neighbours to provide dinner. After setting up dinner, this neighbour told us that she was just the caterer and did not want to be part of the meeting but when the meeting started, she did not leave, and she stayed till the end.
We were glad that she chose to stay but wondered about her initial resistance to do so. We suspected that she did care about Rose but was afraid that she could not be at all helpful. It was also probably fatigue and the perception of not being able to make much of a difference. This sentiment was also present among the rest who came. When we announced that we were going to leave the room for the group to come up with a plan to support Rose and her family, her sister and niece protested, “We have done this before, and the plans don’t work like we wanted.”
It was difficult to respond to such a comment and we simply urged everyone to trust the process and give it a try for the sake of Rose and her children. However, when we were asked to return to the room after an hour, there was a plan on the board and looking at the tasks listed, we were moved by the generosity and kindness people had offered to Rose and her children. All present were also realistic though and told us to reconvene the meeting in 2 months and to invite more people to help if necessary.
We wish them every success but as Rose’s sister and niece had commented, plans don’t always work as intended. Nonetheless, based on the closing comments by the group, we are optimistic that Rose’s family will have enough support. A neighbour thanked us for the invitation as she always wanted to help Rose but did not know how to approach her. Anotherremembered how Rose had welcomed her when she came to the neighbourhood 9 years ago and believes that it is only right to be supporting a friend in need. Yet another mentioned that having seen Rose’s children grow over the years, it would pain her tremendously if their well-being was compromised.
The outpouring of support from neighbours impressed Rose’s sister who then apologised for not visiting enough before saying how proud she was of her sister for being a good mother despite her challenges. Finally, Rose thanked everyone and expressed that their support made her happy and strong.
When people bring their problems to us, we tend to only feel successful when we can make the problem go away. The fact though is that this is seldom possible. We would like to thank Rose, her family and friends for demonstrating that coming together in friendship and cooperation is success.
Enjoy your week.
“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”- Audrey Hepburn