Saturday, March 21, 2015

The value of having one's marbles ...

The words expleted out of him: "Boring? It's worse than boring."

As I turned the pages in the large print photograph album with Barry and Rosemary, I sensed movement offstage, right.

With an as inconspicuous swivel as I could manage without doing my befuddled head in, there was Pieter, slumped in his chair, his walker parked beside him, waving an iPad at me.

He beckoned me over, and to my astonishment, it was a State Records image of the Mark Foy department store from the good-old-days.
Bored out of his brain after just his first month in aged-care, he had listened in to our conversation across the way.

This centered on a 1952 image of three siblings, Barry, Julie, and Ross, visiting Santa Claus at Mark Foys, on the corner of Elizabeth and Liverpool Streets.

I, in true geek style, was trying to prove it was said store, by the logo imprinted on the wallpaper in the background.

I still have not proved this.
Pieter's eyes twinkled as he bade me guess his age. Trying not to patronise, I guessed between eighty and ninety.

He squirmed with pleasure: "93 tomorrow". Mental note to self, here be a yardstick: accessing images from State Records Photo Investigator, on an iPad, in an aged care facility, aged 93.

Hearing the still thick brogue in his voice, I tried to formulate a question about his provenance, but, second guessing me, he chuckled: "Blood'n'guts Dutch". I had posited, perhaps, Swiss.
He was 16 and working in a dairy in the Netherlands, when the Nazi presence built up to such an extent, that his family knew they had to get out, even though they were not Jews.

Pieter arrived in Australia not long after the cessation of hostilities, and went to work for "Peter's Milk" at their headquarters somewhere down off Campbell Street, within cooee of Mark Foys.

And so the degrees of separation eased to a sliver.
I asked if I may take his photograph.

He instantly made it a deal with the devil.

With a few practised swipes with his longnailed index finger, he raised his iPad, and we double-clicked.

The pleasure was all mine, Pieter.


freefalling said...

The untapped wealth of extraordinary stories and experiences in nursing homes.

MargaretP said...

So good to see he is still engaging with everyone and with it enough to use technology and keep his brain and social skills active.
My Mum died at 91 and the last few months was in and out of hospital,the staff had no idea what a wonderful, kind, caring, generous person she was, I felt like yelling... This is not my Mum !...I hit on the idea of taking in a photo for her bedside when she was younger and quite beautiful, to remind everyone she was a person well loved....I was too late.

diane b said...

Oh to be like him in my head when I'm ...if I'm 93.
Great story telling Julie.