I have always tried not to be a burden on anybody. Certainly not on my grandchildren, who already have their own children and to whom I gave the apartment where I lived before coming here. I chose to leave it. What would you have done?
I am 82 years old. I’m not that old, but I couldn’t stay alone in my home any longer. Sometimes I forgot to take my medicines, some mornings I just couldn’t manage to go out and do the shopping and so I took my decision: a specialist institute for the elderly, where I can be with other people of my own age, nice people. Everything paid for, everything guaranteed, no need to make the bed or to cook and no trouble for anybody .
Leaving my home has not been easy. It’s one thing to talk about it, but it’s another thing to actually do it. But in the end I managed to do it. For a while I didn’t get to sleep: the furniture, my linen, the plates, the photographs on the wall, the smells, the noises, and the pots. When you have them it seems normal. But when your things are no longer there you notice it.
It hasn’t gone badly for me here. The food is acceptable. The place is clean and in theory there is a nice garden. I say “in theory”, because in the meantime my health has deteriorated somewhat and without someone to accompany me, I can’t make it out into the garden. All in all, there wouldn’t be much to complain about if only, when you are inside, life wasn’t turned upside down. What is normal becomes impossible.
Time. After a while you forget what day it is, because all days are the same. It’s as if there was nothing to wait for. Not even the TV programmes. Because there is only one TV shared by many and everyone wants to watch a different programme.
Things . It wouldn’t take anything to buy batteries for the radio, paper handkerchiefs, fruit juices and a magazine. Nothing if you were on the outside. Now, I only get these things from time to time when my grandchildren come. But the live far away and I don’t want to be a burden just now.
Glasses. Everything becomes complicated, here, for nobody’s fault. My glasses broke when they fell off my bedside table. And I spent many weeks trying to find someone to get them fixed for me.
To be honest, maybe the thing that begins to trouble me most is the fact that nobody, for days, weeks, says my name. If there is no-one who says your name you can have all, but it is like if you can’t breathe. Will I end up forgetting it too?
So I said to myself: I must react. What can I do? I can be a friend. A faithful friend, what’s more. Yes. If you are looking for a friend come and visit me. I have time and you will not disturb me. I am interested in what is happening in the world and I would like to listen to your stories, to speak to you. I said to myself “An hour of time”. Yours and mine. To become friends, to be needed by somebody. In the face of loneliness.