Yesterday I called an elderly friend after what must have been about six weeks, and found out that she’d spent three of these weeks in hospital with a broken ankle. She was obviously still in great discomfort, and worried she might need further surgery. We talked for a while. While I am glad that I called when I did, I am also going through a bit of a struggle with my conscience that I didn’t call earlier. I was busy, and she didn’t ring me either, but there it is: How often should you call people that need to be called, be they elderly or ill or lonely or a stay-at-home mom with three little children?

I phone my parents several times a week. They call less often. They claim it’s because they don’t want to interrupt my working. The same applies to my aunt, who never ever gives me a call, but ends up talking with me for an hour whenevery I ring her.

One problem is that the time it mostly occurs to me that I could call this person I haven’t spoken to in ages is half past ten at night. Seriously. Not quite the best time to pick up the receiver.

Another problem is that I get slightly resentful if I am the only one to initiate a telephone conversation. Yes, I get that some people just never call, but that they are delighted when you do. Yes, I understand that this element of a relationship can sometimes work unevenly. Still, in these cases I tend to end up calling less often.

As I see it, I feel responsible to call some people on a regular basis that need outside contact, like the friend mentioned above, but I don’t feel responsible for others with an equal need, and call them only rarely. I can’t look after everyone.

I just hope very much that someone will feel inclined to call when I need it.

– Rike Horstmann