Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Being used

I am being used. Unbelievable, but true. I am being used. For the first time in my life- or better: for the first time this blatantly openly. And I do not care at all. I actually like it.

My grandmother lives in an elderly home in Zwolle. She is 87 ("but I am almost 88, young man!"- until you are 6 and after you are 85 age is more than just a number, apparently...), and there is some fog in her head. The fog is getting more and more dense, and history is overtaking her. Although she does not live in the past, she would like to call her mother who died before I was born and she has the feeling she left Indonesia, where she lived for almost 20 years, just a few years ago.

Her decline is not rapid, it is steady. She does not deteriorate, she is just slipping away. It is sad, but it is not just sad. Facades that were held up in life to keep up appearances are the first things to leave you when the fog comes up, apparently. It makes life easy in a way.

My grandmother was raised in the early twenties with the idea that pride was a vice. Eighty years later pride is not a vice anymore. Not only that- it is a tool to make others look at you and watch you in envy:

"David, how nice that you are here. What a surprise!! Help me here: what are you again? You are my oldest grandson, right? You make your grandmother very happy."


"So David, what are you again? My oldest grandson? O ja. Did anyone see you walking into the building? And you did tell them who you are, didn't you?"


"Ah, that's the nurse. Hello, this is my oldest grandson, David. He came to visit me today. Isn't that nice? Tell her what you do, David"


"Oh, you are leaving, David? Ok. It was nice to see you again. I am not sure whether that will happen again. I am almost... How old am I again, David? 87. Well, old. Do not stay abroad to long this time. And please come to my funeral. You are my oldest grandson. Let me walk you out."


"Nonsense, I will walk you out. Get me my rollator, and lets walk along the dining hall. People will talk about you for a week, and I can boast a bit about my grandchildren. That is nice for me."

So here am I. walking next to a 87-year old lady, whose heydays are long gone, but who is enjoying every moment of walking next to me. Not just because it is her oldest grandson who is walking with her and who she sees to little, but also because she can show of to her fellow senior citizens. She has a young visitor! And i walk next to her, realizing that I am being used. But more than willing to let it happen and make another round through the elderly home, so that she can boast some more. And have a day in which the fog is there, but the illusion can be kept that it will be gone one day.