Oom Attie and his wife having picnic at Jura Care Village
Oom Attie, the busy farmer could not sit still for long. He had to get to the sheep, the workers, the land. He always made plans and so we let him be; keeping a watchful eye from a safe distance, providing the freedom he desired within the safety of our facilities. As soon as he sees the sheep he would grab a pipe or piece of wood, and walk after them so as to herd them to some destined location only he knows about. And though the sheep were utterly confused as to where they were requested to go, he enjoyed playing the farmer. He would chase them into a camp, and then we would chase them back out as soon as he left. It helped him release much built up energy. The frustration of not being understood, and not knowing who and what he was. But only for a short while…
Oom Attie was a busy man! Because a farmer is a busy man! One day the blood pressure machine was lying on my table. He was fascinated by any machine. He got hold of it and took it apart in many little pieces. Pieces we didn’t even know the machine had. Another day he took his nail clipper, and with that he disassembled the TV remote for us. Oom Attie was a very busy man!
So the next Sunday, she came again with her husband, oom Gerrit. He was his wonderful self and greeted his new friend, oom Attie. Together the two strolled around, looking at the sheep, chasing the peacocks, hand in hand along the winding path that is Dementia. And long after oom Attie left, oom Gerrit still remembered the friend that would walk with him.
And another Sunday, she came to visit again with her husband. But this time she left alone….
He stayed behind.
He was “employed.” We arranged an agreement among all staff that Oom Gerrit was to be seen as an employer at Jura Care Village and not a resident. We did so because Oom Gerrit was still within the early stages of Dementia and so could slightly comprehend (or should I say express) that there was a difference between being a resident in a care facility and working at a care facility. One meant submission while the other involved a certain amount of control and dominance; an aspect of being human that is most difficult and challenging to give up, especially among people with Dementia. Part of his job description was to join the Jura VW transport bus while doing staff rounds; fetching the carers and taking them home. Those rides were a most relaxing and purposeful time for him. It was as if he felt he was still contributing, still alive with purpose, and you could see it in his eyes.
He would always comment on the performance of the bus. “Hy loop soos stroop.” He would say; sometimes coherently and other times only managing to pronounce the first few words. But this expression would always be followed by warm laughter from deep within his belly.
Sadly the time came when the staff rounds began to become more and more difficult for him to partake in and so we put the employee initiative to an end.
So last Sunday on the 2nd of July, she came to visit again! And this time with her three newly adopted grandbunnies!!
She placed the warm fluffy bodies in her husband’s hands, with him hardly knowing who this women was. But he still felt the emotion of familiarity with her as he smiled at her. He is still the man with a sharp sense of humour, as he held on to the bunny in his jacket. But soon with the bunny out of his sight, he forgot the tiny body against him. But he enjoyed the feeling of being happy…
As he put his hand in his pocket; his hand found his harmonica… and he began to play the most beautiful melody for us! I would like to share with you the video of uncle Gerrit playing the harmonica from his heart. And if you listen carefully you can hear beyond the sound, and maybe get a glimpse of what lays within!