Image via WikipediaWe have been having problems on the health front, still unresolved, but it has been very comforting to have support from the kind people who left comments on the blog, the family worldwide and local friends.
I have noticed once again that, in terms of people actually within physical reach, it is those with their own worries, health problems and/or lack of dosh who are the people on the telephone asking what they can do and then doing it. The expat crowd, so busy gossiping about any and everyone, are, as always, evident by their absence.
It's all too close to write about current happenings, but the last time the man in my life had a bad attack the reactions of those around were decidedly interesting.
His Turkish builder, who had not worked for him for years, was on the scene at the hospital with his crew nearly every day once he got past the nurses by slipping up the backstairs to the ward. Amazingly enough, they checked their patients so irregularly that they had no idea that he even had visitors, let alone how many! It was thanks to him that I discovered that TMIML had not been eating. Paralysed, with the resulting problems in swallowing, pureed food was served, but there was no one to help him eat it, so the cartons came and went untouched for days until the Turks discovered what was going on and not only told me, but brought home made soup made by their wives and helped him drink it. Why didn't I know? Because we live miles from the hospital, and visiting hours were rigid...afternoons only...so I was not there at feeding time. Lucky the Turks were resourceful. They were there at all hours. Undetected by the staff.
Friends offered help with transport, even Didier who is so nervous in modern road conditions that he drives at about 30 kilometres an hour and then only on local roads.
A young cousin from Belgium dropped everything and came down to help at a moment's notice, staying until we managed to spring TMIML from hospital as soon as he was fit to move. Looking back on it, the wheelchair dash with five doctors in pursuit was funny, but not at the time!
Then, of course, there were the others.
Mother, who has never liked him, heard the news and decided to have palpitations, thus swinging attention to herself and, with luck, loading me with guilt for upsetting her. No chance on the latter, I've known her too long, and as to the former, I firmly believe that her success in reaching her late nineties is solely due to her resolute egoism.
An expat estate agent rang to ask would the house be going on the market when he died. The reply was not encouraging to her ambitions. I am still astonished in hindsight that someone could do such a thing.
The plumber who had not finished the work and so had not been fully paid decided to come and claim the outstanding amount to avoid complications.
'When he dies.'
Another flea in the ear.
Then there was the expat couple who were going up to town and offered a lift to the hospital. If I paid for the petrol...which gave them a free trip to the DIY store and the status of benefactors! People who could have done with the money were the most difficult to persuade to take any for their expenses. I had to resort to shoving notes into the glove compartment.
People I rarely saw appeared on my return from hospital in the evenings, to take a glass of wine and enquire about progress. Two of them managed to articulate what seemed to be on the general expat mind.
'If he dies, you'll be quite well placed, won't you?'
'How much tax exemption will you get on the estate?'
Luckily after a few days the Belgian cousin arrived and firmly disposed of any further callers.
However, the icing on the cake was the duck stealer. Coming home one evening, I discovered that I had a number of ducks missing. Fed up and furious, I went straight to his lair, found them and let them out, waddling down the road after me back to home and safety.
I saw him the next morning, looking for the ducks in his yard and told him not to worry, they were with me.
'Well,' he said 'I didn't think you would be needing so many in the circumstances.'