I was so pleased, on my birthday, (Will they still love me, now I’m 64?) to find out that my father could move from the home, where he’d had to go after three consecutive days of needing ambulance officers to lift him off the floor and a short stay in hospital to this unit in the retirement village, where he will be receiving high care, from now on.
The home was very clean, efficient, with friendly staff, who have told me that they will miss his polite and friendly manner but, it was for this village that he, as president of one of the Dutch-Australian clubs, handed over a cheque towards helping establish this retirement facility, (No idea how much it was. It’s the gesture.) on behalf of the members of the Netherlands Society in Bankstown, in the 70s.
Admittedly, after initially being interested in one day joining other Dutch-Australians in retirement there, as he grew older and it might become a reality, he was not so keen to go and live there.
The hon. treasurer of the then Netherlands Society in Bankstown and his wife moved into this village, in the 80s and I brought my parents to visit them there a number of times.
Get-togethers, called Instuifs, were held for a number of years in the village and my father drove my mother to them during those years and while the women sat and chatted he and the other man attending would play snooker, in another part of the building.
Driving from home to the village is a little easier for me. The home was located closer to the city. The village is in the other direction.
My own involvement with the village has been playing the piano accordion there, for St Nicholas. Making a DVD recording the ten-pin bowlng outing of a number of the residents. Attending meetings of the Federation of Netherlands Societies and a number of the meetings of the Duch-Australian genealogy group.
Some years ago, I finally joined the board of the Dutch Australian Cultural Centre, which was then still located in the building,in the grounds of the village.
Among the slides, here on my desk are some of my parents, together with the second aunt and uncle to come and visit us, in Australia, walking through the grounds of the village when the buildings were being established and fund-raising fairs were held there.
We have video of one of the Dutch-Australian choirs, performing, with the unfinished buildings, in the background.
In recent weeks, after putting him in that home, it was sad, visiting my father, always finding him, not in the smallish common room, but in the room, with four empty beds, (never saw the other two residents during the day time), sitting by himself, waiting for time to go by.
Yesterday, just after he’d arrived he joined the weekly happy hour and told a man who had known him, through mutual friends, in the mid-fifties, at least a dozen times, that he’d been the president of the Dutch Club, for twelve years.
The friend, two years older (92), still has no problems with short-term memory and even travelled back to the Netherlands, not long ago.
Not everyone speaks Dutch, at the village but it was good to see my father again amongst people who have a very good understanding of where he comes from.
Still settling in, after having spent the last two or more months waking up at home, in hospital, briefly back home, in hospital, in a nursing home and now in the village…..
…..still planning to ignore the wheelchair lift and to, soon, get out there to meet those other residents of the village.