Here's a scenario: A mother has five children. She is very ill and in need of in-home assistance. Before her husband passed away, the family had decided early on that she would stay in the home as long as possible, and the children would all help her in her day to day tasks if unable to manage her affairs as independently as she once had. Unfortunately, the work does not seem to be distributed evenly now.
One of the boys lives out of state so obviously he cannot be there to assist. He does send money monthly so that the family might be able to hire someone part time to fulfill the duties that he or the other children are unable to do. One daughter is very busy and her job requires frequent travel so she cannot be there to help out either. When she is in town, she doesn't "have the 'time" to see her mother.
One child is totally absent from the situation altogether. In fact, a few of the kids haven't seen him in years. The last they heard he was living downtown somewhere and if they're lucky, he just might pop up around Christmas. The two children left are daughters who both take turns checking on their mother. One daughter is over almost daily setting up her medication, cleaning her home, doing her laundry, cooking and assisting her with hygiene. The other daughter comes and helps when she can. She too has a large family so she doesn't always have the funds for gas to come over and help and she certainly can't contribute financially like her brother can.
Soon the mother dies and the day comes for the reading of the will. The children are all there, (even the frequently absent sons) and are gathered around to hear their parents' final last testament. The result? Any and all money left after expenses is to be SPLIT EQUALLY amongst the five children. Hmmm... was this a fair decision? Should monetary reciprocation be rewarded only to those who made the effort? What about those who could only help where time or money allowed, or better yet, those who showed up only when there was something to be gained? Perhaps the saying "What's a mother to do?" was born out of this conundrum.