I think, don’t you, that one of the hardest things to do is to ask for help. People usually hate to feel that they’re taking advantage, even if a friend has offered, and one feels one should be self-reliant and able to cope. Time was when I never asked for help, however much I could have done with it.
For example, many years ago, the Sage had an operation and, on his arrival home, would have to sleep downstairs for a week or so. This meant bringing a bed downstairs. Now, our only single spare bed was (this was indeed a long time ago) an old metal-framed one. A new mattress but a very old and heavy base. I had to carry it downstairs. Why didn’t I phone a friend and ask for help? I was too shy. I even knew who I wanted to ask, but I couldn’t. Years later, I told him about it and was roundly told I was an idiot. True. Knew it at the time. Didn’t help.
Anyway, now I ask for help and offer it too. I’ve made good friends that way in fact. A long time ago, someone I didn’t know very well was telling a few of us at WI that her parents’ new house, in the process of being renovated, had been flooded because of a burst pipe (a breakdown in communication between the person doing the pipework and the one doing the insulation, followed closely by a hard frost). The place was in a total mess and she was having to clear it up in haste before her poor mum and dad saw it. “I’ll come and help,” I said, and I did, and we’ve been great friends ever since. We muck in together.
Last year, I was gloomily painting my flat in London and I texted Dandelion to cheer myself up, and she offered to come and help. Now, I was being completely selfish because I knew she was busy, but I accepted her offer. I hope she felt complimented by that, because it is a compliment to have an offer accepted – that is, that it’s assumed that you mean what you say and are not being simply polite in a “we must do lunch” way, and that the recipient trusts you enough to ask or accept.
Anyway, the Fellow and his wife are moving house, and on Saturday I offered to help with the packing up. This morning, she rang and took me up on it. That’s all really, but I’m so glad they’ve asked.