The indignity of dementia. "The man came to buy this."

Dear reader.
If we’d met here 30 years ago, this writing would be all about the activities of the class that I was teaching or the location of the school and its community. About soccer and ballroom dancing but particularly about how the (then) new multiculturalism was giving me the opportunity to be a (Dutch language) "radio star", (In truth not many listeners – but great fun!) a member of the Dutch Syllabus committee etc.. Etc..
What my parents were doing, was their affair. They were busy.

Yesterday, I found the hospital that my father has been taken to, after feeling foolish about taking only a brief glance at the street directory and over-shooting the location by quite some distance. (When I left, I realised where I was and found one of my usual runs home.)
He is in one of the very few hospitals in the eastern and western suburbs that he has not been in yet, in his 52 years in Sydney.

Found him and the man in the opposite bed pointed out where I could get a chair from just outside the door on the balcony.
Meanwhile, the nurse walked in and my father (90) proudly announced that his son was here. She chided him for imagining things. (She could not see me for a moment, obscured by a curtain.)

When I sat down beside him he said he was glad that I was here because the man had been in to buy this house. But my father would not sell because it would be left to me.
What? I said (in Dutch). He wanted to buy this hospital?
I explained (several times) that he is not in his old home but in a hospital.
Then he laughed about he silly it was to think that he was in his (quote) old house and we both laughed.
But two minutes later he was telling me again, that the man had been to buy this house and he wasn’t going to sell.

In September he had three days in a row when I found him on the floor and the ambulance people helped get him into bed but he refused hospital. The third time he did go.
From hospital he was found a nursing home and from the nursing home he went to high care in the retirement village, established by the Dutch community and now to hospital.
With short-term memory loss acute, no wonder he’s confused.

He was foreman (afdelings-chef), union representative and vacation organiser, in the mirror factory where he worked, in Gouda. Migrated and soon (while still learning to speak English) he was foreman in a similar mirror factory, in Newtown, Sydney. He was president of the Netherlands Society in Bankstown for twelve years.
As he’s explained so often, he was able to make decisions and stick by them. Not everyone likes to make decisions. He liked managing people and to see them doing things (make windows, enjoy holidays, picnic, watch Dutch films, dance at regular dance evenings and special Orange balls, etc..)
He liked inviting people and to entertain them.

I wanted those two nurses whom I spoke to in that hospital yesterday, to know that man and not the confused old man, with the very fragile skin, who’s imagining things.

My parents both worked hard here and particularly my father saw being able to buy this house, in a quiet cul-de-sac, in south-western Sydney, as a reward for all this effort and for being responsible for convincing us to leave Gouda and come here.
Then, now quite a few years ago there were changes to the properties on both sides of his house and people DID come and approach him about buying his property.
That’s stayed in his memory.

UPDATE, two days later. More lucid. Understands he’s in a hospital but immediately forgets which one. Is understandable, as he cannot see it from the outside.

The indignity of dementia. "The man came to buy this."


Ramsgate Beach, Australia

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Artist's Description

Thankfully, it comes to many of us. Old age. It may have some drawbacks though. (I’m still seeing connections with the movie: Romulus, my father. Particularly when the boy visited his father in a home.)
My parents met, when they were very young teenagers, in 1931. Married in 1941.
Both born in Gouda, 14 days apart. 14 July, 1917 & 28 July 1917. Mother passed away in May 2004. A long life together………

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