Saturday, November 06, 2004

Tafel 5 - part one

What anyone should hope for in their last years, if they are spent in a nursing home, is a community like Table 5. There are six of them, three always in wheelchairs, one sometimes, one man. It's a nice little community, sort of elite, but friendly and committed to each other in a very nice way.

The one man, Meneer DeGroet, is a strange little fellow. You can tell that he's the stud, the center of the attention of the ladies. They sort of take care of him. He always gets two soups, and if you forget it, they are like a bunch of hens. He's a total faded rose. He's always in a coat and tie, but he's a little crooked and his thin hair is in this wacky comb-over from the back to the front. Still, he's the man and he is take care of by his harem.

Mevrouw Beerlage is in a wheelchair. She had a stroke or something and her body is a little lazy and her speech is slurred, but she is so friendly and learned my name the first day. This really complicates things as it's difficult enough to understand Dutch, then there's old people Dutch, then there's her slurred speech, but she really makes an effort to annunciate. I commented recently on her handwriting. It's very nice. She told me that her father was a teacher. I told her that my grandmother had been a teacher and she also had nice handwriting.

Mevrouw Indonensia is one of the women on a walker. She never really talks, but she smiles a lot. I don't know her name because she writes her own menu and her handwriting is a little curvy. Plus, she comes late a lot, so there's no real alone time - those moments when I say, "Goede morgen, Mevrouw...Kan ik u helpen?" and then I read the menu to them and fill it in. They're amazingly meaningful moments and they help our "relationship" along.

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