Yesterday I found myself stopped at some roadworks, in Wardell Road, between Dulwich Hill and Bardwell Park, with tears flowing down my cheeks. The dam had burst. I’d switched from the chatter about financial matters on the car radio, to a CD with country-style music and that did it.
I had just visited my father, in the nursing home, where he is, for respite care. I’d found him in his room, in the middle of the afternoon, tucked up in bed, under a white blanket. The other three beds empty. He was relaxed. It was like the calm after the storm.
After two or more weeks of finding him on the floor twice; sending for the ambulance three days in a row; in and out of Bankstown Hospital; discussions with social workers; trying to manage; coping with little disasters but finding it too hard – now, – seeing him in a clean room, professionally cared for, was reassuring but also a little like palliative care – dressed up as respite care.
He wanted to know again, if he was now the oldest surviving member of his family.
Yes. 90 is a good age!
He wanted to know if all was organised regarding me inheriting the house.
Yes. (Although, I’m not 100% sure.)
A friendly smile from the director of the nursing home, on my way out.
And then, somewhere near Bardwell Park the tears just automatically flowed, because of a silly, sentimental song.
It’s like nature taking care of releasing the tension.
In the sixties and seventies, many hundreds of people enjoyed the dances that were regularly organised by people like my father, as ‘president’ of the Netherlands Society in Bankstown. Also the picnics, bus trips, film evenings.
The phone used to ring many times during the week and my father would cheerfully pick it up and ask how he could be of service, arranging card games, participation in the charter flights to the netherlands, etc., etc..
And now he’s there.
POST-POST SCRIPT: He passed away September, 2009.
“The sun always shines, in Australia”, my uncle told us, in Gouda. So we migrated.
“You just have to fit in”, our friend, Gerard van Hoorn, told the Dutch newspaper reporter, in 1956. (Je past je maar aan, zegt de Heer van Hoorn_, said the headline.)
“_No-one, in the family got to be this old."
“It’s time to go Upstairs or Downstairs.”