Saturday, October 22, 2016

After Nadine's Birthday party...

A bunch of us, under the guidance of Ray and  Shelley keeping her mother at home we worked tirelessly to decorate the roo, which came out great,  the table setting and decoration and the hushed silence when it was clear that Nadine had arrived. Never in the history of Chloride was a secret kept. She and John had no idea that there were around 60 people helping her having a great birthday surprise party.

If I can find someone to help me uploading the pictures that came out great you'll see how great the party was.

Nadine and John

It is Nadine's birthday today. Ray and Shelley really went out of their way to give her a special occasion birthday. I helped but my contribution was of a poem. I was lucky they liked the poem.
By the way the Chloride women can sure cook and bake!!

The house on the hill
has its foundation
in beauty and the wisdom
of building strong.

Kindness rounded everything off.
The gentle lady of the house
found strength to do
what she had to do

each day - good days and others

No bake-sale without her
No morning coffee without him

Day by day their togetherness
grants freedom to both -

And so the river of time flows.

Happy birthday Nadine!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

From Pucini's opera La Boheme

Mimi: It is deadly to be alone in winter, in spring the sun keeps us company... Mimi wasted away from turberculosis and her Bohemian friends brought her to the hospital where she dies.

My mother had tuberculosis and was brought to the Stuyvenberg Hospital in Antwerp. Yet she had already infected me. thus in Februari, while being in first grade, just learning to read and write and I, always a bit clumsy then, couldn't get the letters quiet straight. Without any explanation I was put on a small van that brought a bunch of children to "Het zwart Goor" where I stayed for 10 months till the end of the year. I was bored a lot. No school, laying around the whole day with open windows for fresh air and food I managed to spill every day. I read anything I could lay my hands on: in German "Strubel Peter", the example of a naughty boy. Also "Max und Moritz"and the now very politically incorrect "Little Black Sambo", there was also a black slang book and one with romantic ice scating, and Disney's Cinderella...My handwriting never got pretty and I regularly make spelling mistakes. Once in a while my mother and her new man came by and then they drove to Turnhout where part of his family was from. I was mainly fascinated by a large cage with in my eyes about hundred canaries, singing their heart out. They decided to get married in December, just after Christmas. They picked me up on the day of my first communion, in a red dress. When I saw my mother i jumped up, forgot the make a cross and the nun said: oh, you little communist. My mother for wedding wore a white brocade dress with a matching kind of hat. I got a light blue dress and a green coat. and when school started again after the Christmass holidays, I just was put in the second class where I needed to get myself and my shit together. years later, at a poetry reading a lady came by and the end and said I was your teacher and taught you how to read and write. I asked her if she was happy with the result and she said:yes!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Brother and sister

I lived as an only child from an only child and have an only child. And the question "Do you know Janine Ameloot?" My reply was: yes she was my mother. Then followed a longer very thoughtful e-mail. And it became evident pretty soon that my brother Tommy had found me. I didn't know about him. My mother never told me, but after Tommy had contacted me,  by a weird set of circumstances my stepfather decided to tell me there was an other child from my mother. So Tommy's existence had been confirmed. Now a few weeks later we are planning to meet in Chloride for just a few days. His two daughters will accompany him. Of course after having been away from Chloride the yard is overgrown, doors and windows have to be repainted ( every year :-; ). Then followed an invitation for thanks giving, an occasion more important in the USA than Christmas or Halloween. The name says it: it is about giving thanks. It started out as a giving thanks for a good harvest. In Germany that is "Ernte Dank Fest". And yes it is fitting that we, brother and sister, meet in this time of the year. We have e-mailed, spoken over the phone and I am invited to spend the Holiday with Tommy and Jo Ann's extended family. I know, as a former only child, that it is easy to be overwhelmed by suddenly being part of a tribe, and being related by blood or marriage to all of them. So yes I'll travel to Cincinnati and back to Las Vegas, which is the nearest airport and from which I will fly out back to Brussels and then on by bus to Antwerp. All this with Doggy Dog in tow.

What adventures we will have.

Rest spaces

Don't get me wrong: this is not about spaces for resting when walking in the city. But space recuperated from the city, greening the city. It are the lowly spaces, nobody cares about, but still are an integral part of the city... Sadly the other pictures don't want to be on my blog... The hidden quietness of the city is what this is about and the resilience we all need in life.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Terminal dementia

When my mother was sinking away, loosing herself from dementia, she lost language and the simple daily actions. Yet her bread had to be prepared. Sometimes she needed to be fed. She rebelled against that. She became dehydrated because also she didn't want to drink. Thus she ended up in a hospital where they flooded her with intravenous fluids. She was more alert, more conscious of her surroundings and the people around her. When the doctor explained what was going on he used the phrase that she had "terminal dementia". Since I didn't understand what that was, I asked him. His reply was that her brain no longer could tell her she was hungry or thirsty. Thus she didn't want to eat or drink, keeping her lips tightly closed. Refusing anything to eat. I had one day a last conversation with her. She was trying to say something, made some noises that were no words. I was intend on giving her a rely, but knew not what she meant to say. Thus what did the former interpreter do: I changed the sounds she made just a little bit. We kept it up for about ten minutes. I'll never know what we said. Maybe the only thing that counted was the effort to hear her and to try and understand how she felt. Just a few minutes later she knew no longer who I was.
I have a fond memory of this bizarre conversation that brought us nearer to each other, even not knowing what we said. I guess the connection was what was important to both of us.

My mothers dementia

After a period when she tried to hide that she often couldn't find her words or didn't remember how to do simple household tasks, she slipped away into not eating nor drinking. Whatever her husband tried, she would not open her mouth. Part of it was the struggle to get her dentures in. So after a while they gave that up, and softened her food.
But it was not going well, she lost weight, was often sad, since she didn't know what was going on. And she got dehydrated. When in the hospital the gave her intravenous fluids and she perked up, was almost her old self again, spoke a few words. But when she was back home it was obvious that the home care wasn't enough for her
anymore. She was brought to a nursing home in Brecht, where she passed away. The phone call came a bit past midnight since they couldn't reach my stepfather.