Dear Jeannette,

 

You know, I liked your letter a lot, all these little homely anecdotes that I immediately forget, but enjoyed chewing on when I got them! I am quite happy where I am. The good thing is that I can be outside every day, and feel the wind in what is left of my old hairs. I enjoy this so much, the rustling that tunes in with the soft rustle of the hearing aids that do not bother me anymore. Because spring is coming in, I am extra happy. I like the crispy cold weather that is laced with flecks of sun.

 

You know, this dementia and all, it isn’t so bad. It reminds me a little bit of when I had that concussion. Although I am not trying to write ever smaller pieces of text, as I did then, I find it easier to settle in now. It doesn’t really matter if the world feels a bit afloat. You are remote from all that’s going on anyway when you are 92. There is so much happening in the world! Janey’s daughter showed me what she can do with her smart phone. She says it could be really handy for me, as you can set up all kinds of walks without getting lost. Well, seriously, that does not work at all! When I tried to plot a little walk it turned out I had plotted it in Saudi Arabia! And then the constant heat warnings and annoying encouragements to drink water. I may have dementia, but I am not stupid! Surprisingly, I found back my ‘home in the woods’.

 

But what I wanted to say about dementia not being so bad is that everything is taken care of. This makes you feel even more afloat, as the events just emerge one after the other, without you having realized that it was again time for dinner! And I am never cold, because these young girls keep running around with blankets to cover you up. Really nice ones.  When then the cat comes to sit on my lap, I can feel really at peace with the world. Careful not to disturb the cat, you can take some time to think about things – or take a little nap yourself.

 

It is so cosy that there are so many animals here. I am good friends with most of them. Only the chickens are too stupid to recognize anyone. With their cocky heads having eyes only at the side, they move their heads up and down, left to right only to discover if you have something edible with you. Ah, and did you know, finally my platypus collection got a good space in the children's home in the other building! These kids come to tell you in all earnest about the fantastic animal this is, laying eggs and being a mammal and so on. I act all surprised, as if I didn’t know. And I ask them questions they can look up on their computers. These kids are so serious! They have to do schoolwork all the time. While the grannies take a nap, hah!

This floating feeling also makes me remember the days of the corona crisis. We were ill, and we couldn’t go anywhere, we couldn’t even taste and smell things due to the virus infection! All the days resembled one another. Going on-line for chats was just too exhausting. We were thinking about the lonely people in their homes, particularly the people with dementia in nursing homes. They could not receive visitors anymore, everybody was so afraid of the virus. And it killed off many of us oldies. The people with dementia wouldn’t understand what was going on. They suffered, missing their pals with whom they had been living most of their lives. It was really painful.

I wanted to recommend this book to you, it is beautiful. The advantage of dementia is that you can enjoy one book for quite some time, but the other side of it is that I keep forgetting the title…

I will let you know when it gets back to me! It is about us oldies, and how the people looking after us try to not contradict us all the time when we want to do silly things! It is really sweet. Will work, the author calls it. What a fine book that is, I seem to vaguely remember I had something to do with it when it was being written. But this is probably wishful thinking! [1]

Cheers to you now, Jeannette, granny is up for a little nap before lunch starts! They promised us pancakes, yummie! Life is not so bad here, floating and all…

Yours truly,

Jeannette

[1]  I am referring to Driessen, A.E. (2019) A good life with dementia. Ethnographic articulations
of everyday life and care in Dutch nursing homes.
 
A nice and artful teaser for this work is: 
Driessen, A.E. (2020) A Good Life With Dementia: Ethnographic articulations of everyday life and care
in Dutch nursing homes, Illustrating anthropology

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Jeannette Pols works at the University Medical Centre and the University of Amsterdam and loves to be outdoors and living with animals. She anticipates a good life with dementia if these can be there: as well as some good food and wine!

 
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Jeannette Pols